Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10 NIV
Often in our Daily writings we zoom in on one verse or one passage to focus on its particular message. Today, I want us to zoom back out and look at the larger context of Luke 19. First of all, Jesus is on his last journey and is traveling near Jericho on his way to Jerusalem in Chapters 18 and 19 of Luke. The book of Luke was written as one long narrative – there were no chapters and verses in the original text. We need to remember that the verses written right before and right after Luke 19:1-10 are important context to keep in mind as we focus on this passage. Jesus’ ministry here on earth is nearing its end, many of his followers are thinking that Jesus is the Messiah, and strangers are even using Messianic titles to address him (Luke 18:38-39). In chapter 18 of Luke, Jesus teaches about: praying persistently, being humble before God, and wealth and the Kingdom of God. Then he welcomes children, predicts his death, and heals a blind man as he nears Jericho.
Now in Luke 19:1-10, we have a picture of the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, climbing a tree so that he can see Jesus. Luke tells us he is too short to see over the crowd that is around Jesus. Then Jesus calls him by name, invites himself to his home, and Zacchaeus’ life is changed dramatically. Jesus says to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:9-10. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to do exactly this – to die on a cross in order to offer salvation, eternal life, a right relationship with God to those who will acknowledge, repent and receive his gift of salvation. Jesus’ mission was to seek and save the lost and to bring the Kingdom of God.
I am going to suggest that this week you read Luke 18 and 19 again. Look at who Jesus interacted with, and the principles taught in these parables. Could you write a mission statement for yourself? How does God want you to interact with people in your world to further Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost and bring about the kingdom of God?
By Grace Hunter