verb \ ˈsēk \
To go in search of, look for, or try to discover
As Christians, we have been taught that the Triune God has three distinct identities – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we think of Jesus we instantly think of His role within the Trinity as the savior of the world, but when we focus exclusively on this aspect of His character we ignore one of the most powerful truths of scripture.
Discovering Another Side To God’s Character: Jesus & The Tax Collector
In Luke 19, Jesus traveled to Jericho to minister to his followers. He had become famous for healing the blind, lame, and infirm throughout Israel, and the streets were packed with people who wanted to see a miracle.
By the time that Zacchaeus arrived, the crowd was so large that he couldn’t even catch a glimpse of the miracle worker. As the city’s tax collector, Zacchaeus had earned a fortune by working with the Romans who ruled over Judea…but he couldn’t buy his way into an audience with Jesus. He knew that he was missing something, and he knew that He had no way of attaining it with his wealth or power. There was only one way to see Jesus: he had to climb to the top of a nearby sycamore tree to get a better view.
Zacchaeus stepped away from the throng of followers, hiked up his robes, and shimmied up the trunk to get as close to Jesus as humanly possible, and when Jesus looked out over the crowd that had gathered to see him his eyes fell upon the tax collector. To the crowd, Zacchaeus’ actions were embarrassing; after all, how many grown men climb trees to get a closer look at a stranger? But Jesus wasn’t looking for perfect people: he was looking for the lost.
“Zacchaeus!” Jesus yelled. “Hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
As Zacchaeus climbed down the trunk of the sycamore tree, the other onlookers whispered to each other in disapproval. Zacchaeus worked for the Romans, and they had been taught that holy men should not break bread with sinners. And as the crowd parted to make way for the humbled tax collector, Zacchaeus said, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.”
Jesus replied, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Christ Is In Pursuit
We’ve been conditioned to think of Jesus as a savior, but today I want you to think of Him as a suitor. He’s traveled from town to town, home to home, and heart to heart to win the lost to His cause, and He never gives up the chase. This is an uncomfortable topic for evangelists who are more interested in converts than the great crusader. They put so much emphasis on the result (winning hearts for Christ), that they forget about the lengths that God will go to to find us and make us whole.
Unfortunately, millions of sinners have walked away from God’s free gift of salvation because they were never offered love. As followers of Christ, we need to know how to seek the lost before we can save them, but most of us are not ready to put in the time and the energy that it takes to relentlessly pursue the lost until they can’t ignore His love. When you are talking about Jesus with a non-believer, salvation may not be the most attractive thing that Christ has to offer; like Zacchaeus, sometimes they just want to be sought after, seen, and understood.
I want you to remember the first time that you felt God’s love. Didn’t it feel good to know that He loved you as you were, with all your flaws and faults, and still wanted to be with you? That love, that feeling of being understood and accepted, is the primary value that drives human behavior and guides us in our faith. It is a fundamental aspect of God’s character, and as mini-Christs it is our duty to share that love with others.
When we talk about Christ with non-believers, we need to put just as much emphasis on God’s relentless pursuit of the lost as we do on his ability to save. He never leaves or forsakes us, even when we run from Him, and in the end His love is the only thing that will lead a sinner to repentance.
How has God pursued you?
Tell me more about your journey to repentance in the comments below!