To Seek and to Save
January 07, 2007 | Andrew Davis
The Most Purposeful Being in History
“The Purpose Driven Life”: Only One Perfect Fufillment
Don't you just love new things? Like a new day, the freshness of a new day, like a clean slate. Nothing written on it yet. Walk with the Lord, don't have to do any of those things you've been doing, a fresh start, I think that way always about New Years. I promised myself I wasn't gonna say that word that talks about commitments you make at the beginning part of the year, no, I'm not gonna say that word in this sermon, but I want us to think about this upcoming year in a very purposeful way. I wanna think about this question, why am I here? Why am I alive? What is my purpose on Earth? I think that's so important to do.
Socrates on trial for his life in 399 BC, said his most famous statement, most frequently quoted statements that he made, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Well, you could take that and bring it down to the smallest level, the unexamined day isn't worth living either, neither is the unexamined year. So I think it's good for us to examine not just what we've been doing, but what we intend to do, what we will do in the future, by God's grace, if God gives us time.
Now on the bulletin, you don't have to look there, but it's there every week. Our vision statement or our purpose statement, says very clearly why we're here as a church, we exist, it says, "To delight in, display and declare the glory of God equipping others to do the same through Jesus Christ." That little word 'to' is our purpose, that's why we're here. We exist for this reason. Now, my desire is that each one of us today, all of the believers in Christ that are here today would be asking this question of themselves: Why am I alive? Why am I here today? Why am I alive this year? What is God's purpose for me? And then we collectively as a church would ask that about ourselves: Why is FBC here as a church? What is God's purpose for us?
I think this is important, and I don't think we can do in this matter any better than staring at Jesus Christ, who I believe was the most purpose-driven person in history, the most purposeful person in history, no one more so than Jesus. He was more purpose-driven than a hostage rescue team would be trying to rescue hostages from some Al-Qaeda terrorists. More purposeful even than a woman coming to the point of delivery of her first child, she's only thinking about one thing at that moment: the baby. Jesus was more purpose-driven than that, more purpose-driven, for you athletes, than a relief pitcher going in with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the World Series; all he cares about is getting those outs. Jesus is more purpose-driven than that. Over and over in the Gospels, we have the same things stated different ways. Why did Jesus come to Earth? We see it again and again.
Many Purpose Statements, One Central Mission
In the verse we're looking at today, look at it at Verse 10, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Very clear, that's why he came into the world. But that's not the only one, there are many. I've actually counted 12 different purpose statements for Jesus life that all say about the same thing. I pair the list down. But just listen to it, I think, if you hear these, you'll start to remember some others. John 3:16-17 is an example, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Verse 17 says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." So there it is, twice in two verses. Or this one, Mark 1, when Jesus got up very early in the morning and was out in a solitary place, praying and seeking the fellowship of his Father... They came out and they wanted him to come back to the same town where he just was. They wanted him to stay there, they liked what he was doing, his healings, his teachings, just stay here. And Jesus said, "No... " It's one of the few times he ever says no to anyone who comes and asks him for anything. One of the very few times (talk about that more later). But he said, "No, let us go somewhere else to the nearby villages so that I can preach there also, for that is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons, he knew what he was about, and it even affected what he did that day. He was saying, "No, I'm not gonna stay here, I'm gonna go to the next town. I know why I've come, I know what my purpose is." And it went right to the end of his life. He's on trial for his life, in John 18:37; the issue of Jesus being a king comes up, that's what they were charging him with, and Jesus talked about his kingdom, and so Pilate picks up on this and says, "So you are a King then?" and, “Jesus answered, ‘You are right in saying that I'm a king. In fact, for this reason, I was born and for this, I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. Purpose, I entered the world to speak to the truth and to gather people who wanna hear the truth through me.’” Or This one, Matthew 20:28, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Even the apostle Paul had purpose statements for Jesus, this is my favorite, and that's in 1 Timothy 1:15, and what an incredibly encouraging Verse, for any that are here today that Jesus would call lost. I will talk about that more in a minute. But if you're here today, and Jesus would say, you're lost, you don't know the father or the son. And you might feel I have too much sin in my life, I could never come to Christ, I could never be a Christian. It's too hard. The Apostle Paul said, 1 Timothy 1:15, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst." That's what the Apostle Paul said. But it's the same thing over and over. Do you not see it? So many different ways to say it, but it's the same thing again and again. Jesus entered the world for a purpose, and that purpose was to save lost sinners and he never forgot it. Every day of his public ministry, every day he woke up, he knew what he was about; he knew in a big sense and he knew, at a detailed strategic level, logistical level, every day, what he was about. He was there to seek and to save the lost.
Immediate Application: Is Your Purpose Lined Up With His?
Now, the immediate application to you is, are you living your life that way? Are you living what Socrates would call the unexamined life? Are you just going through your life? I say that you probably have a 100 different purposes a week, if not more than that. And if you were to go through and say, "Well, I'm going to the store to buy...” and you list out some things, that's your purpose for going to the store or to the mall?. Some people don't have a purpose going to the mall, they go for the experience. Alright. Not me, I always have a purpose. Like most men, it's like a hunting expedition. Okay? I wanna get in and get out. Like a SWAT team I was talking about earlier, I wanna get in and get it done and out. Alright, but it's alright.
I say to you that we generally are purposeful beings and we'll have purposes, I think if you kept a record over the next week of all of your purposes, I just wanna ask you, are any of them Luke 19:10? What's the purpose of your life? Are you seeking and saving the lost? Are you involved in that? Because I say that if we as individuals, or we as a church or not, we're off message, we're off what Jesus is doing. That's what he's doing, it's what he's been doing, he will continue to do it 'til the end of time, and if we as a church are not seeking and saving lost people, we are off Christ's message, we're off his life. We may be doing many other good things, but we are off what he's told us to do, he sent us for this purpose. "As the Father sent me, even so I am sending you." And I think that means each one of us.
So as I look at our church, so I look at our strengths and weaknesses, I look at what we're doing well and what we're not. I think we have understood, we've come to understand the save part is a full-bodied, full life thing, that everything that helps you along becoming more like Christ, any good sermon, good Sunday school classes, any good ministry, all of that is part of your salvation, which isn't finished yet, and won't be until you have your resurrection body. So it's an ongoing seeking and saving. Jesus is still seeking you every day, and he will until the day that you are finished being saved, then you won't need to seek you, 'cause you'll be face-to-face with each other. He will continue to do that, but we know that this text is meaning something else, he's talking about lost people. So anything that we do, that's part of sanctification, and that's good, but my question is, are we crossing the gap between us and lost people seeking them the way Jesus did? That's my question, I don't think we do that as well. And I would love to see us be more faithful in 2007 than we've ever been, at least since I've been here at crossing that gap, seeking lost people, and I think this is a good text to begin.
Zacchaeus Was Lost
Who Was Zacchaeus?
Now, let's talk about Zacchaeus. Who was Zacchaeus? Well, Zacchaeus was lost. We'll start there. Jesus in effect said that. Jesus is not meaning to be insulting to anybody, if he calls somebody lost, he's meaning to be a physician that accurately diagnoses a situation. Talk more about lost in a moment. Look at Verse 2, we have this man Zacchaeus. “So, a man was there in Jericho, by the name of Zacchaeus, he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.”
So, who was Zacchaeus? Well, he was a Jew, and he was a tax collector. And tax collectors were Jews who acted as Roman frontman, who would collect taxes from their neighbors and give them to the Romans and keep some of them, some of the tax money for themselves as their salary. Herein lay the problem. Now, taxation by the Roman started with the Roman conquest of Palestine in 63 BC. It was for taxation purposes that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And that's what moved Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem where Jesus was born in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus took on the question, one of the most controversial questions ever asked... "Jesus, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" He dealt with that. So this is an issue all the way through. But you know Caesar is remote, he's out there in Rome issuing decrees and censuses and getting thousands of talents of tax money rolling in. He's remote. These tax collectors, they weren't remote. They were your neighbors. And if you're a Jew, a patriotic Jew, you don't want the Romans there at all, and you sure resent paying taxes to them in the Promised Land. How then are you gonna feel about a neighbor who's profiting from that whole system? You're going to hate him probably if you don't see him the way Jesus did.
Now, Zacchaeus was a tax collector, but he wasn't just a tax collector, he was a chief tax collector. That meant that other tax collectors reported to him, that means if they were wealthy, he was really wealthy. He probably took a commission from each of those lesser tax collectors who probably were lower level operators who probably struggled some financially, but a chief tax sector, he didn't struggle. And this meant that he was probably a very strong-willed leader, probably very committed to being a tax collector, his life brought him into direct and constant contact with the Romans with Gentiles, so that he was incessantly ritually unclean, very much like a leper would be. It had probably been years since he went to the synagogue or the temple to worship, he was probably alright with that. It probably didn't mean much to him anyway. That means his life consisted of business and pleasure, he was all about this world, he was about making as much as he could, didn't care what you thought about him.
And now you stop and think about that. What kind of person does that make you be? What kind of shell do you have to have? You're just walking through the streets and you just don't hear it, it doesn't matter to you. It makes your heart hard, and he didn't care about widows and orphans, he didn't care about the poor and needy, he didn't care about anybody but himself. And he's willing to take way too much tax money from people and encourage tax collectors to take even more, so that he would get as wealthy as he could. That made him an idolator as well, didn't it? Because if you're greedy, you're an idolatry, so he worshipped money and worshipped things.
How Was Zacchaeus Lost?
Now, how is Zacchaeus lost? Well, God calls that lost. Most of all, he's lost to God himself, his heart is separated from God, that's why he's doing all these things. He has an emptiness inside his heart, and he's filling it with material possessions and with pleasure and parties, and while living in all of these things, he's filling the empties that's meant for God, he's filling it with all of these idols. That's what it means to be lost.
Jesus in Luke's gospel, in Luke 15, there's a cycle of parables that he tells about what it means to be lost. There's the lost sheep, the shepherd goes and looks, leaves the 99 on the hills and goes to look for the one that wanders off. And there's a lost coin, the woman who's looking for, I think the interpretation is, one of the coins she got in her wedding day, it's precious to her, and another coin won't do, she's got to get that coin back, and she searches for it until she finds it. And the most poignant of all by far is the lost son, we generally call it the Prodigal Son, in Luke 15, and that's of a son who grows discontent living with his father, and he goes off and squanders half of his father's inheritance on wild living. And he ends up slopping pigs and realizing things would be so much better for him if he would just be back in his father's house where he started, and so he comes back and the father welcomes him back in. These three parables together about lost-ness. It's about being away from God. Separated from God, you're lost, and you can't find your way home.
A few years ago, I read a heartbreaking story, kind of story that makes me cry, and this is one of the reasons why I don't watch the local news. My wife does every... But I hear these stories and they break my heart, I don't wanna hear it, but she's willing to listen and she does a good job and keeps me informed, so I get it through her. But this was a heartbreaking story of a 10-year-old boy lost in a blizzard, couldn't find his way home, died under a picnic table about a mile from his backyard. I just cried. The picture, I transferred it to my own kids. I could picture one of them frozen under a table so close to home, but can't find it and dead, and imagine finding them as they did a few days later when the storm was gone
Lost to God; Lost in Sin
But I tell you, that as tragic as that story is, it's nothing compared to Zacchaeus or perhaps you, if you're here today and you don't know Christ, being lost from God. Because Ephesians says that if you're lost, you're actually “…dead in your transgressions and sins,” it says, it says that you are “…without hope and without God in the world.” That's what lost means, and Zacchaeus was lost, but any present experience that we have of lost-ness. That emptiness, purposeless-ness, unable to answer eternal questions, don't know why you're here, that lostness is nothing compared to eternally confirmed lostness and hell, that's the worst lostness of all, from that there can be no salvation, will be no salvation, no escape. And Jesus warned about it again and again, and Zacchaeus was threatened with that very issue, lost. Zacchaeus was lost.
Christ Came to Seek Zacchaeus
How Did Christ Seek Zacchaeus?
Now, Jesus came to seek him. He came to seek Zacchaeus. And I found a number of ways in the text, and I wanna bring them out, and what I had originally desired to do is just bring some of these details out of how Jesus came to seek Zacchaeus, and then at the end, go over them all and say, "Are you doing this?" What I wanna do is I wanna apply them as we go, okay? So, the application will be as we go, and then one at the end.
1) By Entering the World
But first, Jesus came to seek Zacchaeus by entering the world. He entered the world for this purpose, he came into the world to save sinners. As we already said in 1 Timothy 1:15, we just celebrated Christmas. This is what the incarnation was about. Jesus however, is the only person who's ever lived who could say to Pilate or anybody, for this reason, I entered the world. “This is why I came in the world…” You can't say it. So why were you born? You had no choice in the matter. You just were born. Okay, but Jesus entered the world for this very thing, he came into the world to seek Zacchaeus. Now, application for you. Hey, this is a freebie. Okay? You're already here. You're already born. You check that box. Be encouraged. We're one for one so far, okay? You're already in the world, you already have a life, you already have people you're interacting with, you're already here, praise God for life. So you already got that one, I don't know how you do on the rest of them, but that one you got. Okay?
2) By Establishing a Reputation as a Powerful Friend of Sinners
But secondly, Jesus came to seek Zacchaeus by establishing a reputation as a powerful friend of sinners. By the time he got to Jericho, his reputation preceded him. He was notorious, you could say it that way. As a friend of tax collectors and sinners. That was like a tag line under his name. And what's so amazing about this is that Jesus is the holy and pure Son of God, who will be the judge of all the Earth and who will judge with perfect righteousness. His credentials for righteousness far surpass the Pharisees and teachers of the law who questioned him about this matter of being a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but he was willing to freely associate with sinners, he was willing to have a woman who was a known adulterous, wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair and speak words of forgiveness to her and encourage her. He was willing to have that happen. He was willing to say to another woman caught the midst of adultery, “Go and sin no more,” and speak reassuringly to her, but also try to strip her from her sin. He's never gonna coddle sin. But Jesus was the greatest friend of sinners that ever lived.
“Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.”
There is no better friend for sinners than Jesus. But what I'm saying to you is that his reputation preceded him, and could it be that Zacchaeus for the first time in years was interested in a religious figure as a result? For the first time in years, he thought, Maybe there's hope for me. They probably had made some jokes at their tax collector parties, "Well, you've got a friend in Jesus, at least, maybe he'll come to your next party, that would be interesting, maybe he'll do a miracle or something." So Jesus already had a reputation.
Now, that reputation cost him dearly, I want you to understand that, it cost him dearly. Because they said, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners," they said, Matthew 11. Let me tell you something, Jesus was never a glutton, never a drunkard. But they misunderstood 'cause he associated with, he identified with sinners, he had this reputation. Now, he defended this reputation vigorously, because he said, "It's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I've not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." So, my question to you is, What is your reputation? Have you established a reputation as a place where sinners could go to find the Savior? Through your works, through your words, through the way you carry yourself, by the things that you do to reach out, do you have a reputation where people know where to go? Have you put the sign out in front of your shop so that your reputation precedes you and they'll know where to go? It's gotta be a reputation of holiness, but also of openness as Jesus was to sinners, so that you're gracious and you recognize you don't forget that you're a sinner. And so, you are open for salvation business.
3) By Coming to Jericho, a Cursed City
Thirdly, Jesus sought Zacchaeus by coming to where he lived, to Jericho, a cursed city. It was a cursed city. Now look at Verse 1, “Jesus entered Jericho when he was passing through.” Now, you may not know this, but Joshua, after destroying Jericho, cursed the city. “And he said, ‘Whoever rebuilds this city, two of his sons will die.’” And they did. It's a cursed city. But I got to think about this and my application to you on this is, are you willing to go to places that sin has made ugly? You know, the wealthier you get, the more affluent, the more comfortable, the more beautiful your world gets around you. And we forget that sin makes things ugly, it makes whole countries ugly, it makes cities ugly, it makes rooms ugly, it makes little apartments ugly, and it's not pleasant to be there. Are you willing to go to ugly places?
Now, there's beauty in a lot of those places, common grace beauty and even the redemptive grace of God's beauty, especially in people, you can meet Christians that are doing great work, and there's such a beauty, if you know what to look for. But I'm just saying initially, just the outward appearance, it's not attractive to go to an AIDS Hospital in Africa, to go to Port-au-Prince in Haiti. I remember City Soleil, which is not an attractive place, it's a tent city, where kids are coming out and getting water out of muddy puddles and bringing it back in for, I don't know what purpose. I think its only purpose would be to pour it back out of the bottle. I don't know what else, but I worried about it. You look in and it's just not an attractive place. 'Cause you don't have to go overseas, you don't have to go to places that idolatry and false religions have made ugly, there's enough ugliness around us. It could just be the house of an alcoholic man whose his wife is leaving him and he just can't seem to kick the drinking problem. You go in, the place stinks, it's a mess. Wife's been gone for a month or two, and you're trying to reach out to him, it's not a pretty place. To go to a cursed city, it's hard, he saw it in that way.
4) By Baiting the Hook
Forth by baiting the hook. Now, I wanna talk more about this next week, so I'm not gonna say much this time, but you know Jesus said, "I'll make you fishers of men," right? So next week I wanna talk about, well, Jesus' counter with this Samaritan, a woman at the well. Never has there been a fisher of people like Jesus, he's the best. But what I mean by this is make the Gospel appealing and interesting, not a turn off, not a Bible thumper kind of thing. It's like, Please come and beat on me some more, I'm lost and I'd like you to come beat on me and tell me why I'm wretched, I really get into that. That's something I enjoy.
No, there's a winsome appealing aspect of Jesus, Jesus made the Gospel appealing, because he was so magnetic, people just wanted to be around him. Well, how did he do it in Jericho? Well, he did it by healing a blind man right outside the city. And so, here's another great miracle, and by the time he enters the city, there's a huge throng of people around Jesus, huge throng. So that little Zacchaeus... In the kids picture, he's pictured like 3 foot 2, my guess, he's probably not the 3 foot 2, okay? But a little bit taller, but you know what I mean? You ever been in a parade, and just can't see? Sometimes they sell those periscope things. Zacchaeus couldn't see. And isn't this a marvelous thing? Isn't this an incredible thing?
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). You don't have to strain to see Jesus in heaven. He is the center of everything there. He's easy to see in Heaven, but here Zacchaeus couldn't get a good look at him. That's part of Jesus' downward journey, is humbling. There was a crowd of people around, he couldn't see him. So Zacchaeus runs ahead and gets up in the sycamore fig tree, so he can get a good look at him.
But Jesus made the Gospel interesting by the miracles, by the parables, by his personality, by the winsomeness. Do you know how to do it? You know, to some degree, it is a bit of a technique, you learn how to ask good questions, draw people out, they talk about issues going on in their lives. You learn how to turn it around and draw out some things, rather than just make a pronouncement, and they seal off. I'll talk about that more next time.
5) By Being Interruptible
Fifth, by being interruptible. Jesus was interruptible. Now, let me tell you something, Jesus, I say is the most purposeful being in the history of the world, and at the same time, it seems the most interruptible. How in the world do you put those two together? I've not been able to figure it out. Do you ever see a time, I already mentioned this in my message once, do you ever see a time where somebody come to Jesus and he says, I just don't have time for you right now, I just can't? Never. We get no encouragement in that regard for our busyness. Alright? I'm too busy for you.
Who was Jesus too busy for? Point to a person he was too busy for. Even when they came and said, Come back to our town, Jesus didn't say no, he just said, "I'm going to the next town, you wanna hear me, go there," in effect. He never said no to anybody. Jairus comes, he gets up and goes with him. The Roman guy comes, whose servant is paralyzed, he says, "I'll go and heal him." He just goes with everybody, and he did it in three years, that may be the greatest miracle of all, to be so purpose-driven and yet so interruptible. How is he interruptible?
Well, he is on the most important mission in history, he is going up, up, up to Jerusalem. There's a long journey in Luke's Gospel from Luke 13 through Luke 20. I had all the Verses written out, I'm not gonna share them with you, but there's something like six, he's going to Jerusalem, he's going to Jerusalem statements. From Luke 13 through Luke 20, he's going up to Jerusalem while he was on his way to Jerusalem, he's going to Jerusalem. And then in Luke 18, just go back and just, maybe just a little bit on the page even, Verse 31 and following says, “Jesus took the 12 aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem.’” Well, if they didn't get it by then, they weren't listening. We are going up to Jerusalem and everything that is written by the prophets about the son of man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and they will mock him, insult and spit on him, flog him and kill him. And on the third day, he will rise again. That's what he's going to Jerusalem for. There has never been a mission as significant as that. Are you busier than this? Is your purpose higher than that one? Then how can we be too busy to seek and save the lost? He stops along the way, looks up in a fig tree, and there is Zacchaeus and says, "Come down Zacchaeus, I must have dinner at your house today." He is interruptible, again and again, not just with Zacchaeus, but as a regular pattern.
So, we pride ourselves in our busyness, don't we? We like talking about it. I guess it makes us feel important. I'm being honest with you, that's why I talk about my busyness when I do. I wanna do it less. But all I'm saying is, I think there's a pride aspect there. I just ask that we look at the issue of being interruptible for the sake of seeking and saving the lost. So that if somebody comes and ask directions, if somebody comes with a financial need or somebody comes and wants to pray or there's some intersection of your life with somebody who's lost, that you say, "Oh, this is one of the good works that God ordained and events that I should walk in. I have to make the most of it." And whatever you were doing, put it aside for a moment and see God multiply your time to make up the difference, interruptible.
6) By Looking at Zacchaeus and Focusing on Him, Calling Him by Name
Six, by looking at Zacchaeus and focusing on him, and calling him by name, “‘Zacchaeus, come down from the tree, I must have dinner at your house today,’” and I don't wanna eat in the tree, so let's go to your house, alright? We could do it in the tree, but I don't wanna do it, okay? So let's go to your house. He focuses on Zacchaeus and how precious is that? That the son of God would look at you with his eyes, you know, like with Nathaniel. He looked at Nathaniel and he knew he was a true Israelite in whom there was nothing false. He could just look at someone and know their hearts. Just focusing on their case. And we have a lot of wonderful physicians in this church. It's pretty costly usually to get a specialist of the best to focus on your case and look at you. It's costly.
We were watching on, I think it was New Year's Day, a children's movie called Treasures of the Snow. It was a children's story written by Patricia St. John and it's set high in the Swiss Alps, and there's this boy named Lucien, who's a troublemaker kid, and he is tormenting a younger boy named Danny by holding his kitty cat over a cliff, over a precipice. Well, Danny in trying to save the cat slips and falls, and he's crippled. Lucien wants to do everything he can to redeem himself and to heal him and the bone maybe wasn't set properly or something, and there's a specialist from Geneva who is nearby, but he's through a mountain pass, on the other side of a mountain pass. And a kindly wood carving guy there who's trying to help him, gives him a huge sum of money, he goes on skis in the night, through a storm to get to this guy, just about dead by the time he gets there, and he says, "Is this enough money to have you come?" He says, "It's enough money to buy my clinic actually. If you wanted to buy the clinic, it'll be enough money for that." He says, "Will you come and look at him?" He said, "I'll come."
Now, what I say to you is that Jesus is willing to focus on someone's case and let their situation go into his mind so he deals properly with what they need. We're not good listeners sometimes. Oh, you know, I'll pray for you, you know, a quick thing. I think one of the best ways we can do this in our church is through the counseling ministry, that's developing. In 2007 we're gonna see it develop, but our desire, 10 years down the line is that our counseling ministry would bring us into regular consistent contact with lost people whose needs, whose sin has brought them to a point where they know they need help, and if that's not a teachable moment, I don't know what it is.
And that we would get ready this year for that year, and then start seeing people getting converted through our counseling ministry. But you don't have to be in the counseling ministry in order to counsel people who are being hurt by sin, you just have to listen to them and focus on their case.
7) By Taking the Initiative
Seventh, by taking the initiative. It says, Jesus said, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today. Jesus took the initiative here. He is the seeker, he's the one going after the lost, he's taking the initiative here. Now, just as a matter of etiquette, I would not recommend inviting yourself over somebody's house for dinner, don't generally do that. If you're really desperate for a meal, okay, I mean, after the service go say, "Do you mind if I come to your house for meal today?" I think that the people of this church are gracious people, and they'll probably cover it with grace and say, "Sure, come on." Maybe. Depends who you talk to. Alright?
But Jesus invites himself over. That's rather amazing, isn't it? But he is taking the initiative, he is the seeker, he's seeking the lost. And I actually think the shoe is on the other foot on that one. He actually desires to invite Zacchaeus to his house for an eternal dinner. He wants him to dine with him in the Kingdom of Heaven. So, you feed me now, I will feed you forever. Do you take the initiative with lost people? Do you walk across the office carpet to meet the new employee, 'cause you hope to witness to him two months down the road? Or maybe even that day, if the opportunity provides itself, or cross the street with the new neighbor. Do you take steps to take initiative? I'm talking... This is the issue for me, crossing the gap between our lives and that of lost people, that's a matter of initiative, Jesus took the initiative. That's what seeking is.
Number eight, oh, by the way, I've been waiting a long time for someone to come up to me and say, "Excuse me, my name is John Smith, and I was really hoping you could tell me how to become a Christian. I've been lost and for years now, would you please tell me how to become a Christian?" That has never happened to me in my life, and I probably will die before it happens. And I've had some that come close, but it doesn't tend to happen, right? Are you all waiting for that? Are you waiting? I will be evangelistic and be fruitful in 2007, if God brings me one of those people that the pastor was talking about, that come up and say, "Would you please tell me how to become a Christian? 'Cause I don't know." But for the most part, that doesn't happen. They're just busy living their lives, their lost lives, and you have to take the initiative as Jesus did.
8) By Having a Sense of Urgency
Number eight, by having a sense of urgency, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. See the urgency in Jesus here. There's always in Jesus a sense of urgency. Nicodemus comes to at night and wants to explain... Exchange pleasantries. Oh Teacher, we know that you're come from God because you do all this. Jesus doesn't have any time for that. Nicodemus, you must be born again. Immediately, there's an urgency to Jesus, he has three years to save the world. It's even more urgent at this point. He will be dead on the cross within a week or two, depending how you measure it, maybe 10 days. He has very little time and he has no time to waste. How properly good are we with time? We just waste it. But there's a sense of urgency. Do you feel urgency? This might be the last time I'll get to talk to this relative. This might be the last time, this probably will be the last time I sit next to this person on the airplane.
I actually, when I do airplane witnessing, I almost always say, "I probably will never see you again." I feel it acutely, if I haven't had a good chance to share the Gospel, and they come on saying, "We are now beginning our initial approach into... " I feel like, "Oh man, I've got about four minutes. I don't have much time." There's a sense of urgency. Jesus had that. Do you have a sense of urgency? 80,000 people die every day in East Asia, never having heard the name of Christ. Does that bother you? Is there an urgency there for unreached people group ministry? Are you planning on doing anything about it this year through prayer, through giving, through a short-term mission, just through educating yourself, writing letter of encouragement to a missionary, hold the rope as we've been talking about? There's an urgency to this ministry.
9) By Being Willing to Associate with Lowly Sinner
And number nine, by being willing to associate with lowly sinners. We already touched on this, but are you willing to sit at a table like Jesus was with a tax collector and eat food bought with tax money? That gets a little dirty, you know? It's like, I don't know. Now, Paul talked about not asking questions of conscience, about whatever sat in front of you. Maybe that's what was happening there. Do I need to know that this was, you know, widow so and so's last two copper coins that's paying for this meal? Jesus was willing to get involved in lives that you could think would be morally defiling. He was willing to associate with people, willing to associate with the lowest and with the highest. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to reach out across racial and socioeconomic lines to get involved with people that would be ordinarily difficult for you to get involved with, so that you can seek and save the lost?
10) By Being Confident in God’s Power to Save
Number 10, by being confident in Jesus' power to save. Amazingly, in just the previous Chapter, in Luke 18, Jesus had had the encounter with the rich young ruler, you remember that one? Rich young ruler comes, wants to follow him, and all that, Jesus says, "Okay, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, then come follow me." Do you remember what happened? The rich, young ruler, his face fell because he had vast wealth, lots of possessions. And remember what he has said? He said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Now the disciples were amazed and asked who then can be saved? Do you remember what he said? "With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible" (Luke 18:27).
11) By Seeing God’s Work in Zacchaeus’s Heart
The next chapter, he saves a rich man. Do you see it? I mean, I've never seen the connection. Rich young ruler, Chapter 18, saves the rich man in Chapter 19. I think that's amazing. Do you trust God enough to use you to save someone in 2007? Do you trust his power to use you to save someone in 2007? He can do it. With you, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible, even the saving of a rich person. And by seeing God's work in Zacchaeus' heart, number 11, Jesus saw the eagerness of Zacchaeus to have him come over to his house. In Verse 6, it says, "So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly." He was glad to have him.
Are you able, like Henry Blackaby, to experiencing God? Are you able to see the work that God's doing in somebody? Are you able to see it and say, "Oh... " to take a question that they ask about marriage, or to take a statement, a new father, a new mother says, "You know we really need to get back to church," do you see that as, "Oh, let's jump on that. That's an opportunity, God's at work in their heart, let's see what we can do." Or you're out at a state park and somebody comes up and they just say, "Boy, isn't that a beautiful sight? Beautiful." Are you able to turn that around and draw them out and talk about spiritual things at that moment?
12) By Being Willing to Pay the Price for Seeking
And then finally, in this list, by being willing to pay the price for the seeking. Verse 7, "All the people saw this and began to mutter, he has gone to be the guest of a sinner." Do you realize there's a cost to seeking the lost? I think you do. As a matter of fact, I think you think about it more than you think about anything else on this topic. It's going to hurt you to seek the lost in 2007, it's going to inconvenience you. You might have to move and live in a different place. You might have to not do some things financially, ordinarily you do. Very directly, you probably will be disliked, if not openly hated at some point if you're faithful in this area and you know it. If you try to share the Gospel, people might turn off, they might misunderstand you. They might say bad things about you, like they did about Jesus here in Verse 7, are you willing to pay the price?
Christ Came to Save Zacchaeus
Seeking is NOT Enough: Christ Came to Save
Now, this is how Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus. But you know something, the good thing about Jesus, he didn't come just to seek, that's half the journey. He didn't come just to seek, he came to seek and to save what was lost. And so, he's going to save Zacchaeus. He didn't say Zacchaeus come down, I must stay at your house today so that he could seek him. He came to save him. And he's willing to pay the price, not just for the seeking, he's willing to pay the price also for the saving.
By Convicting Zacchaeus of His Sin
And how does he do it? Well, by convicting Zacchaeus of his sin, and by working faith and repentance in Zacchaeus' heart. Look at Verse 8, "Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor.’" Isn't that what Jesus told the rich young ruler to do. Actually he told him the whole amount. But Zacchaeus didn't finish there, remember what else he said?
By Working Faith & Repentance in Zacchaeus’s Hear & Rejoicing Over Zacchaeus’s Tiny Seed of Faith
He said, “‘And if per chance...’ " I love that. There’s actually humor in the Bible, if you know where to look. “‘If it happens that I may have cheated anyone at all over the last period of time, I will repay four-fold.’” So it's actually double restitution there from what's ordinarily required. That's gonna cost him a lot, I think, he may actually end up a poor man, if he actually follows through on that, and I think he will. Jesus worked faith in his heart, because he said, "Lord... " Do you see the word Lord, don't skip it. He called him Lord, that's Jesus' divine name. Anyone who calls on that name will be saved. Anyone who calls in the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. And he said, "Lord,” and he repented of his usury and his greed and his hatred of the poor, and his idolatry of wealth, and he brought forth costly fruit in keeping with repentance. And Jesus rejoiced over Zacchaeus' tiny seed of faith. Now, you might have been skeptical. You might have said, "Yeah. We'll believe it when we see it."
By Assuring Zacchaeus of Salvation & By Paying the Price for Zacchaeus’s Sins
But Jesus said, "Today, salvation has come to this house." What a word of assurance. What sweeter words could ever be said than were said there, today, salvation has come to this house. For this man too is a son of Abraham. And so, he assured Zacchaeus of his salvation based on an IOU. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, I'm not saying that Jesus owed anything, but basically Zacchaeus sins deserved eternal wrath and punishment at the hands of a righteous God. Jesus would pay his bill for him. That's why he was going to Jerusalem. So he didn't come just to seek, he came to save. And we can't save. Never misunderstand, we have no power to save, only Jesus does. But Jesus is a great savior, and he shed his blood on the cross for sinners like you and me. That's what he came to do.
Now, one final application to you who are First Baptist members. We desire to be faithful in visiting visitors or guests that come to our church. Every week we have a good number of people who visit us for the first time. Many of them are Christians when they come, but some of them are not. There may be some here today that are not believers. I'm gonna say something to you in a moment. But for those of you that are First Baptist church members, we need your help, we wanna be far faithful than we have ever been before in 2007 in visiting guests. Eric Campbell is working on our connection partner ministry, and next Sunday, I wanna get it right, next Sunday, June 14th, at 4:30 PM in the conference room, we have a meeting for how to get involved in just visiting visitors. The more laborers we have for that the better. The lighter burden it would be for anyone else.
So we need help, we need laborers for the harvest field. And I think the more laborers we have, the more visitors are gonna come. I really believe that with all my heart. I think it's just going to ramp up. And so, I'm asking you to think of an application for this sermon being, I am willing to be a connection part, I'm willing to be somebody who goes out during the week and visits a visitor. Now, those of you that are visitors or just those of you that are wondering, we don't visit anybody who doesn't wanna visit, okay? We call ahead of time and we ask and we yearn to meet needs as they are there. But these are folks who have already come to our church, let's start there. But some of them are unbelievers. Won't you commit to being one of those connection partners, to go out and visit a guest? If you have any questions about that Eric Campbell's gonna be in the parlor after the worship service, come and ask him, or just come to the meeting next Sunday afternoon at 4:30 PM.
Now, my final word is to any that are here that have never made a commitment to Christ. I've been speaking mostly to First Baptist members, mostly to believers. All I can say is that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And if you don't know Jesus, if you haven't had your sins forgiven through faith in his name, you're lost. Don't leave this place lost, come to faith in Christ, come and talk to me while we're singing the closing hymn, and then we can talk after the service a lot more if you'd like. Don't leave this place without trusting in Jesus. His blood was shed for sinners like you and me, so that we would be saved. Close with me in prayer.