Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions
Jesus rubbed shoulders with thousands, but I am intrigued by those he singled out. Why them and not others? Were they the ones who caught his fancy? Was the encounter a matter of chance? Was there a selection process?
None of the above, I think. God doesn’t become interested in us because we catch his fancy. Nor does he stumble upon us by chance. He doesn’t come to us now that way, and he didn’t come to us that way when he came in the flesh of the man Jesus. What is God looking for in us? He’s looking for the invitation to enter our lives. He looks, and in some he sees a readiness, a silent cry for wholeness—and he accepts the invitation.
Jesus, his incarnate Son, could see that in the face, the cry, the touch of those who were on the brink of a divine experience. We stand in a crowd while Jesus passes by. We know that if he takes notice of us, our lives will be forever changed. Why would he single a person out? There are many reasons, but they have one common thread: there is something important God is looking for.
The Little Man in the Tree
Consider Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10). He had what God was looking for. God is looking for outcasts and sinners. I am convinced that when Jesus saw the little man perched in the tree, he knew he was looking at an outcast. Jesus knew what being an outcast was like. His was the birth of an outcast, the wandering lifestyle of an outcast. When he saw Zacchaeus he saw more than a man of stature and long on wealth. He saw an outcast.
Most outcasts are poor, but there are outcasts at every level. Zacchaeus had worked his way up to the position of chief tax collector and amassed a small fortune in the process. Jericho was taxed by Rome and tax collectors were locals who collaborated with the Romans. Zacchaeus, a Jew by birth, was looked upon by his countrymen as a religious outcast, disowned by the chosen people of God.
Jesus Is Close to Outcasts
Jericho was crawling with priests of all kinds; Jesus chose a religious outcast as his host. Jesus has an affinity for outcasts. He numbered himself among them. He died in their company so anyone could claim him as their own. If you feel like an outcast, he is your friend. If you feel like a sinner, he is your friend. But he can help you only if you want to change.
Zacchaeus no longer wanted to pretend he was something else. He was a sinner tired of sinning and eager for righteousness. Surrounded by the wealth of Jericho, this man of prosperity knew only the city of desolation within his own soul. He was a pauper of the spirit and he knew it. That’s the kind of sinner God likes to single out.
‘Lost’ is the key word to understand Jesus’ mission.
Jesus said to Zacchaeus: I’m glad you know you’re lost—for the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:9-10). The key word to Jesus’ understanding of his own mission is found in the word ‘lost’. It encourages us to face up to reality and cry out, I’m lost, until he seeks and finds me. This is exactly what Jesus came to do.
Jesus had many things on his mind. He was nearing Jerusalem. His earthly journey was approaching its end. Events would soon challenge every ounce of his integrity and courage. He needed to be spiritually and emotionally prepared. But he stopped for Zacchaeus. He always has time for sinners.
If your life is impoverished by sin, and you know it, the one who came to save the lost has time for you. Today he passes by again. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” (1 John 1:9)
Lieutenant Colonel Philip Needham – USA War Cry