Each Christmas, many people in our society consider once again what it means that the Son of God came as a baby and lived among us.
So why did God become flesh? There are many reasons. But one reason Jesus tells us is to seek and save the lost.
Luke’s gospel tells us about Jesus’ encounter with a lost man called Zacchaeus:
“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 being a short man he could not, because of 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 what was lost”” (Luke 19:1-10).
How was Zacchaeus lost? He was a man who lived in a perpetual cycle of sin.
Tax collectors were employed by the Roman Conquerors to tax the Jewish people. The system was open to abuse with tax collectors taking far more money than was needed from the people – it was a form of theft in broad daylight. Zacchaeus acknowledges this sin when he speaks about those he has ‘cheated’. We also see the other Jews recognising him as a ‘sinner’ due to his occupation.
But Jesus doesn’t avoid Zacchaeus like many other Jews. He seeks him out in the branches of a sycamore fig tree. And as a result, Zacchaeus is saved from his life of sin by repentance.
And Zacchaeus is just one example. Jesus came into the world to seek and save many who are lost in all kinds of sin. Therefore, the message of Christmas is a message of hope to those in darkness. Jesus didn’t come for those who are ‘found’ but for those who are ‘lost’. And he didn’t just come to seek the lost and find them, he came to save them!
If you recognise your sinfulness and your need for salvation, Jesus is the only answer. Your fellow man will often disdain you in your sin. Whereas Jesus welcomes you in your sin. He finds you out and picks you up and carries you home to be with him. You can live in him even now by faith. And one day he will return from heaven and snatch you up to him in the air to dwell with him forever in heaven.
So do you admit your ‘lostness’? Have you called on Christ to seek you out and give you the salvation from sin that you desperately need?