“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
I’m looking through an expensive home and garden catalog. Do you get any of those? I don’t know how we got on the list because it’s beyond our budget. But I’m looking and dreaming of decorating…wishing for the lovely things I see. But what do I really see? I see a family (model beautiful) chatting on the porch, playing cards, grilling steaks. I see love. The catalog company would like to suggest love is better with a fancy patio set and twinkle lights, or perhaps an expensive new barbeque grill. That’s ok, that’s their job. But they can’t fool me. They are showing me relationship and I’m buying it. They are showing me people. And God is whispering that love comes free because He already paid for it. So now grace, mercy, encouragement, loyalty, time, touch, and love…I can give these away in lavish amounts. And I don’t need a new barbeque grill to do it. (And my family doesn’t need to be model beautiful…or even have their hair brushed!)
God is passionate about people. The ones we need in our lives to fulfill our purpose in Christ…and the ones who need us for the very same reason. People. God’s people. I feel the weight of it, and the Holy Spirit heavy on me saying…”it’s always been about people. It will always be about people. I came for my people – bled out for them to win them back to me. Find them, love them, fight for them. They matter…every single one matters to me. I came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
We are all lost. In this scripture “lost” literally means to destroy or perish. Jesus came to save those who were destined for destruction and death and the beautiful absurdity is, He lets us help.
This scripture is from the story of Zacchaeus in Matthew 19. Remember him? The wee little man who climbed the sycamore tree? We make that story cute for the kiddos, but truthfully Zacchaeus was a cheat and a liar. He was a tax collector, actually a chief tax collector meaning he was the boss of the tax collectors. They were a notoriously greedy and corrupt group that worked for the Roman government and collected high taxes from fellow Jews, often with a little added for themselves. Zacchaeus over charged grandmothers and took from the poor. Zacchaeus could afford a new barbeque grill. He had probably been thrown out of the synagogue in disgrace, and so had his family. But he was also empty and lonely…and lost.
Maybe this wasn’t his first encounter with Jesus. Matthew the disciple was a tax collector. Were they friends once?
“ While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9: 10-13.
Was Zacchaeus at this party? Did he meet Jesus and let the Good News pass him by? Well, not this time. This time he risked disgrace, picked up his robes and with considerable indignity ran to climb a tree. He wasn’t going to miss Jesus again. Can you feel his desperation? His intensity? And Jesus responds by calling his name. Zacchaeus, I know you. Zacchaeus I see you. You want more time with me? You want a second chance? I say yes. Let’s go home and talk about it, right now, today. Hurry up! Don’t miss the immediacy of Jesus. He left no time for Zacchaeus to rethink things. He didn’t put him off or set up coffee for next week. When asked, he responded. He said, “hurry, today I’m coming over!” If Jesus will reorganize His day to care for a soul in need, can’t we? Jesus always has time for people in need. Do we?
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Mercy isn’t always popular with those who don’t need it. Jesus was offering kindness to a traitor and the people started muttering, “Jesus is eating with him? A sinner?” But mercy is transformative for those of us who receive it. It transformed Zacchaeus. He felt seen, chosen, loved, and his joy moved him to make things right. Salvation came to him that day and his entire household too. Redeemed from disgrace to walk in grace.
Not one person you run across in your day is an accident. And not one of them has a disposable soul. Let the weight of that hit you hard. It’s always been about people. God’s people showing others how to be safe, and saved, and loved.
But what can one housewife do? One mired in chores and children? One housewife can reach one housewife…one mom at school…one neighbor….the lady at the grocery checkout. They all need kindness and grace and we know the source! We know…
God’s game was never a game of numbers…it’s one of souls. You can reach souls. It doesn’t matter how many. You know what? You DO reach souls. What do you give them when you reach them? Give them Jesus.
Here Mother Teresa’s quiet words speak loudly, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
So I cry, “Jesus, give me your love for them! Show me the ones I can do small things for with Your great love. Show me. Show us. All of us.”