Seekers, Sinners, and Savior

Note from JesusDear Friend,

You are most likely seeking to be one of My disciples or you wouldn’t be reading this. Or you already are a part of My family. Then you are an insider — one of My followers and someone who is religious, in the best sense of that word. So I want to challenge you to listen to the two stories Luke gives you in the verses below. Realize that these stories are intended to speak to you, as My disciple. They are reminders of how you are to treat people who are seeking to get close to Me. Notice several things about these two events!

At first glance, these situations are very different from one another. One man is blind and has to beg for just enough money to survive. The other man, Zaccheus, is a tax collector and is rich; he lacks nothing financially. However, when you look more closely at the two events, you find that these two men have a number of things in common.They both live on the margins of society — the first as a beggar and the second as someone considered by the people as a “notorious sinner”!Neither can see Me — one because of blindness and the other because he is too short to see over the crowd.Both are determined to get close to Me. The blind man shouts and begs for mercy. The tax collector climbs a tree to see over the crowd.Both show humility in My presence. The blind man begs for mercy. Zaccheus humbles himself by pointing out that he gives his money to help the poor and will pay restitution for whatever he has done wrong.Both receive what they need from Me. The blind man receives his sight and praises God. The tax collector receives salvation (“liberation”).Now notice one other disturbing parallel between these two people. Folks around Me try to get in the way of each of these men. They try to keep them from connecting with Me. The blind man is given a “reprimand” from the people in the crowd. I am criticized by the crowd around Me for going to be “the houseguest of this fellow [Zaccheus] who is a notorious sinner.”

Have you ever thought about why many religious people act so differently to broken and sinful people than I did?

Have you ever wondered why broken and sinful people longed to be around Me, but now they mostly avoid those in your world who claim to follow Me?

Don’t you feel sad, even angry, when you see people who deeply need My help yet they are told to shut up — or made to feel that they are not good enough to be in My presence because of their lifestyle? But these people know they desperately need My love, My acceptance, and My grace!

Don’t skip over the preceding questions too quickly. Go back and read them again. Think about the implication of what those questions mean for you and the religion you pursue. Be troubled by those questions! Also, contemplate the following questions:Why would Luke tell these stories?Why would he put them back-to-back?Now notice what I told My disciples that My mission was: I came “to seek and to liberate the lost.”

If you are My disciple, and your goal is to become like Me, then what does that say about your mission and the people you must welcome and serve?

The religious crowd didn’t understand Me. They criticized Me for the questionable people whom I helped and with whom I shared meals. What does that say about what some folks — even religious folks who claim to follow Me — will say about you as you emulate My interaction with others who do not seem so religious?

Rather than hiding from the broken and lost sinners of the world, shouldn’t you be out there among them helping them find their way to Me?Verses to LiveSo how are you going to be like Me in your daily life?

What will need to change?

How will you have to connect to people differently?

What criticism must you be willing to receive?

Who are people around you that are wanting to draw near to Me and need your help in getting closer to Me?

I hope you will think about these questions as you read these two very important and interconnected stories from My ministry!Picture this:

Jesus is nearing the city of Jericho. A blind man is sitting there, begging by the roadside. He can hear the sounds of the crowd accompanying Jesus, and he asks what’s going on.

Crowd:Jesus of Nazareth is passing this way.Then the man starts shouting.

Blind Man:Jesus, Son of King David, show mercy to me!The people in the front of the crowd reprimand him and tell him to be quiet, but he just shouts louder.

Blind Man:Son of King David, show mercy to me!Jesus stops and tells the people to bring the man over to Him. The man stands in front of Jesus.

Jesus:What do you want Me to do for you?Blind Man:Lord, let me receive my sight.Jesus:Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.At that very instant, the man is able to see. He begins following Jesus, shouting praises to God; and everyone in the crowd, when they see what has happened, starts praising God too.

Jesus enters Jericho and seems only to be passing through. Living in Jericho is a man named Zaccheus. He’s the head tax collector and is very rich. He is also very short. He wants to see Jesus as He passes through the center of town, but he can’t get a glimpse because the crowd blocks his view. So he runs ahead of the crowd and climbs up into a sycamore tree so he can see Jesus when He passes beneath him.

Jesus comes along and looks up into the tree, and there He sees Zaccheus.

Jesus:Zaccheus, hurry down from that tree because I need to stay at your house tonight.Zaccheus scrambles down and joyfully brings Jesus back to his house. Now the crowd sees this, and they’re upset.

Crowd (grumbling):Jesus has become the houseguest of this fellow who is a notorious sinner.Zaccheus:Lord, I am giving half of my goods to the poor, and whomever I have cheated I will pay back four times what I took.Jesus:Today liberation has come to this house, since even Zaccheus is living as a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to liberate the lost.(Luke 18:35-43; Luke 19:1-10)Response in PrayerO Father, forgive us for making church about cocooning ourselves from the world of broken and lost people. Forgive me when I have overlooked the needs of others seeking to meet Jesus. Forgive me for the times that I have made it harder for them to get close to You, Jesus. Holy Spirit, as You are working to transform me to become more and more like Jesus, I ask for Your help in having a heart for the broken and the lost as Jesus has. I want to search for those seeking answers and show them Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.’A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware. © 1998-2022, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus’ is part of the Heartlight Network.All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Seekers, Sinners, and Savior
Source: Passion for Praise