And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house… And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:5, 9-10A few weeks ago, our small group was discussing how Christ's first advent prepares us for His second. The pastor then posed a question: "Do we long for Christ's return?" One sister admitted that as much as she wants Jesus to come back, she wants Him to wait because some of her grandchildren aren't saved. I appreciated her honesty because this is something we can all relate to. We have family members and friends who have yet to put their faith in Christ. We've shared with them as best we can. We've prayed and wept, and our hearts ache for them.
During this season, we may be with loved ones who do not know the real Source of Christmas joy. But as long as there is time and breath, there is hope because this is one of the reasons Christ came - to seek and save the lost.
Many of God's people can remember what it was like to be without Christ, without hope, and without God in this world (Eph. 2:12). Some have lived this way in the world, while others were nurtured in the bosom of the church. Both types of people have the same sense that they are strangers to God and to grace.
Jesus came to seek these lost persons and save them. God in Christ is a seeker (Luke 15:3-6). Nineteenth-century British poet Francis Thompson affectionately refers to God as the "hound of heaven" in a poem by that name. The author recounts how he deliberately fled from God, but throughout his life he sensed he was being followed by feet that moved "with un-hurrying chase and unperturbed pace" to bring him to salvation. Without fail, God always gets His man.
When Christ came to Zacchaeus' tree, He called the little man by name. Given Zacchaeus' vocation as a tax collector, his name was probably often spoken in derision or disgust. But Jesus spoke his name with respect, enthusiasm, and purpose. No doubt to his own surprise, Zaccheus responded to Jesus hastily and joyfully (v. 6). The Lord knew Zacchaeus by name! And, by God's grace, Zacchaeus recognized the sound of his Shepherd's voice (John 10:16)!
Zacchaeus climbed a tree out of curiosity to see Jesus. But God was drawing him up into the tree so that Christ might find him. Christ called him down from the tree to embrace him. That day Zaccheus came to know the life-changing experience of an anonymous poet:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found, was found of Thee.
Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on the Incarnation, Joel R. Beeke & William Boekestein, Reformation Heritage Books, 2013, pg. 62.