To Save What Was Lost
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
I am someone who usually tries my best to blend into a crowd. When I serve, I prefer to stay behind the scenes, and I blush with embarrassment if someone calls attention to my deeds. When I made the decision to be baptized, I chose a small, private baptism to avoid having the eyes of the congregation on me. I tend to feel uncomfortable in busy social situations with lots of people and noise. I am truly a classic introvert. While I treasure my close friends and family, I struggle with letting people in and worry about the judgment of others entirely more than I should.
When I read the story of Zacchaeus, the part that strikes me most is how bold Zacchaeus is in his pursuit of a glimpse of Jesus. Not only does it seem to me pretty foolish and ridiculous for a grown man to climb a tree in the midst of a crowd, but Zacchaeus is really the last person who should be calling attention to himself. He is a sinful, crooked man who has been swindling money out of the good people in this crowd for his own selfish benefit. Shouldn’t he be hiding his face in shame before them? Clearly they recognize him and look down upon him for his lack of morality. Yet, he bravely climbs that tree, as I imagine a young child would do, to see over their heads and place himself in just the right position to see Jesus with his own eyes.
What Jesus does next is shocking. He calls Zacchaeus by name, singles him out of this crowd of honest people, and invites himself to visit with Zacchaeus in his home. In this one brief encounter, Jesus brings salvation to a very lost soul and causes him to transform his vile lifestyle in a fleeting instant.
For every time that I have boldly proclaimed my faith through action, I can think of even more times that I have not climbed the tree because of fear—times that I’ve had a Christ-like perspective to bring to a situation, but I’ve bitten my tongue; times that I’ve sensed Jesus calling me to act on His behalf, but I’ve shied away; times that I’ve felt I should do something, but just didn’t want any eyes on me. If Jesus loved someone as depraved as Zacchaeus and wanted to use him for the greater good of His Kingdom, surely He knows my name and has plans for me. Surely He is seeking me and inviting himself into my life to save the parts of me that feel lost. I just need to do my part, to position myself to receive His nudgings and to act on them fearlessly. Perhaps if I climbed the tree, I wouldn’t focus on the faces of the crowd, but rather look straight at Jesus and see nothing but Him and me.
Lord, I pray that you would help me to block out the distractions of this world and not to fear anyone’s judgment but yours. Show me your will, and give me the courage to act upon the things that might make me appear foolish to others, but strong in your sight. Help me to fully surrender myself to you, so that I may be your vessel, one who is able to respond to you and to all of the children in this world whom you dearly love. Amen.