We’re going to see in our passage in Luke’s gospel that Jesus seeks to save you. If you’re feeling a bit lost, or confused, or just in a dark place, Jesus seeks to save you. If you’re feeling lonely, or cut off, or cut out of things, Jesus seeks to save you.
There’s good news to be heard, and a saviour to be seen. We’re going to look at his dealings with two men who seem to be completely different and yet actually have very similar problems.
When we’ve seen what Jesus did for them, we’ll look at how he seeks you out today.
Jesus is Lord of Compassion (18:35-43)
Read Luke 18:35.
Jericho is a day’s walk from Jerusalem. The events that we’re reading about are in the last stages of Jesus’ journey approaching Jerusalem, on his way to his own crucifixion. His mission to save you and me is always on his mind.
With just over a week before Passover, the blind beggar has found a good spot to beg; there will be a steady stream of people making their way past him to and from the city.
But on this particular day, the crowd was different: Read Luke 18:36-37.
- Make no mistake, Jesus was famous by now.
- Everyone had heard of healings, demons cast out, miracles and teaching and controversy.
So what else can a blind man do but ask for help? Read Luke 18:38.
- It’s possible that the man called him “Son of David” just because Jesus (Joshua / Yeshua) was a fairly common name.
- But it’s also a name associated with Jesus the king, the Messiah, the long hoped-for saviour. Hope is in the air!
But people are mean, even to blind beggars. Read Luke 18:39.
Why did they try to get him to shut up? Why didn’t they have compassion on him? Because he was a nobody, a nothing. He can’t be helped; he’s just a charity case, a drain on resources. Help him today, and he’ll still need help tomorrow. So don’t.
But Jesus is Lord of Compassion. Read Luke 18:40-41.
A miraculous healing – sight!
We know that Jesus can do miracles from afar. (He healed a centurion’s servant and a Syrophoenician woman’s daughter without visiting them.) But here he brings dignity to the beggar. And more, we see how Jesus calls people: He calls the man to come, and the man then has to come and ask – Jesus responds to faith. The man’s faith in Jesus caused him to keep on shouting, then to be led over to Jesus, and then to ask for his sight – he trusted Jesus to be able to heal him.
Sure enough, Jesus has power in his very words! He commanded sight, and the man saw: Read Luke 18:42-43.
Imagine being a blind beggar, and then Jesus gives you sight. Imagine that Jesus himself is the first thing you see! No wonder “he began to follow him, glorifying God”!
That man was lost, left, side-lined, ignored, and abused by society, until he called out to Jesus. He never was the same again. His faith in Jesus saved him.
Let’s take a look at what happened to a man who seems the exact opposite:
Jesus, Lord of Restoration (19:1-10)
It’s worth remembering that these chapter and verse numbers aren’t part of the original Bible text.
- They were added to help us be able to find things and refer to things more easily.
- They’re usually really helpful, but sometimes we think things aren’t connected when really they are.
- So when we come to the chief tax collector at Jericho, it’s helpful to ignore the chapter division and remember it’s all joined up.
So Read Luke 19:1-2.
If you’ve learned about Zacchaeus in Sunday School, you might have a slightly comic (or even cute) image of him. But you need to know: He was a horrible little man.
We know that Russia invaded Ukraine.
- Imagine a Ukrainian man, in Russia-occupied Ukraine, collecting taxes for Russia from the Ukrainian people.
- Maybe that’s ok. Maybe he hates it.
- But what if he doesn’t hate it?
- What if he uses Russian muscle to collect more money than the Russians ask for, and pockets the rest?
- What a horrible, treacherous thing to do.
That is what tax collectors were doing in Jesus’ day. That’s why they were so hated. And Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was very rich. He’s top of the pile of scheming, thieving, opportunistic low-lifes. Everyone hated him. He’d sold out his countrymen to the Romans for personal profit.
He was a lost cause, if ever there was one. Read Luke 19:3.
No-one is going to help him get a better view. No-one will lead him to Jesus. He’s a nothing, a no-one. But, like the blind man, Zacchaeus is determined. Read Luke 19:4.
People told the blind man to shut up, but he didn’t. No-one would help Zacchaeus see, so he ran ahead. No-one expected what happened next: Read Luke 19:5-7.
Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name
Jesus called him by name. He knew where Zacchaeus was, and called him to come. Just as he’d called the blind man to come. Zacchaeus welcomed him joyfully! We’ve seen that before in Luke’s gospel! Whenever someone responds to Jesus’ call and goes to him there is always joy for those who come.
But there’s always often grumbling from others, too. The people around couldn’t understand why Jesus would want anything to do with a man like that.
But Zacchaeus is already a changed man. Last week we looked at a rich ruler who lacked one thing: He felt that following Jesus wasn’t worth it; he’d rather keep his money and his stuff. But Zacchaeus has come to Jesus. Read Luke 19:8.
In Old Testament law, if you were guilty of extorting or cheating or stealing from someone else, you had to give it back plus an extra 20%. In some specific cases, you might have to give back more. But Zacchaeus blows all that out of the water. Following Jesus is worth everything. Zacchaeus will use his wealth for good: He’ll give half away to the poor and pay back what he’s stolen x 4.
Faith without works is dead. His faith in Jesus is clearly seen in his actions, overflowing from a changed heart. Read Luke 19:9-10.
Children of Abraham
These are heavily-loaded words!
God’s people are children of Abraham. Way back in Genesis 12, God promised Abraham that through him would come blessing to the world. That blessing comes to you and me by faith in Christ today. Salvation comes through Christ, and when you come to Christ you become a child of Abraham as you share in the same faith in God (see Galatians 3:7).
Zacchaeus had been a traitor. He’d turned his back on God and God’s people. But now, by faith in Christ, he was a changed man. By faith in Christ, Zacchaeus was restored by Jesus, the Lord of restoration. Restored to God; restored to God’s people. Jesus, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. It’s why Jesus, the Son of God Most High, entered the world.
As Son of David, Jesus is God’s Messiah King. He brings healing, sight, and salvation. He accomplishes it by way of the cross.
It’s what he promised to do in the Old Testament:
- Ezekiel 34:11 For this is what the Lord God says: See, I myself will search for my flock and look for them.
- Ezekiel 34:16 I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak…
- Ezekiel 34:23 I will establish over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd.
In Christ, God has come to seek and to save the lost. In Jesus, son of David, we have one good shepherd over us. It turns out, when we look at it, that the blind man and Zacchaeus had more in common than immediately obvious.
And here’s the thing: You have the same things in common too:
Hurry to Jesus
Both men were lost, opposed, sought, and transformed. The blind man was lost in poverty and blindness. Zacchaeus was lost in wealth and corruption. Both men were lost to society, cut off and cut out by everyone. So they were both opposed: Prevented by others from seeing Jesus, though each felt a need to find a way of getting to him. In each case, while they were trying to get to Jesus we see that Jesus was actually summoning them. For both men, Jesus was the one in control throughout. And in the end, both men were utterly transformed by Christ.
Given sight and salvation, both became devoted to Jesus, both included in the people of God (as sons of Abraham). In what ways are you like those men?
- You might be like the blind man, in that you’ve heard of Jesus of Nazareth, and you know he’s transformed the lives of other people (people here), but you don’t get it.
- Or you may feel you’re like Zacchaeus – too sinful, too far gone, a lost cause.
- You’re just not like these Christians; you just don’t think Jesus is for you (though you yearn for him)
- In short, you just feel lost.
If that’s you in any way, you really, really need to get this: the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Jesus seeks to save you. Right now, today.
Go to Jesus today
This stuff isn’t just a tale that you can take or leave like Aesop’s fables. Remember Ezekiel 34 again:
- God said he would come to seek the lost, so that he would bandage you and restore you tenderly.
- He said he’d send one good shepherd in David’s line to be the perfect ruler over his people.
- Jesus is the Son of David, Son of God.
He lives today, now. Jesus seeks to save you today.
Don’t let anyone stand in your way: You call out to him, you hurry to him. If you feel his draw on your life, you go to him. You’ll find him ready to receive you, to welcome you, to restore you and give you life.
Praise God for his grace towards you and everyone in Christ.
Trust him every day. He won’t let you down, and he won’t let you go.
Keep going to him
Even so, it’s just possible that you have come to Christ in repentance of sin, and called out for forgiveness of your sin, and found him, and yet…
- There’s a darkness in your life still. You’re blinded by something, and you can’t see a way forward without tripping up.
- Jesus won’t let you down; he won’t let you go.
- Hurry to him. Cry out for help, for wisdom, for peace.
- He is the light at the end of the tunnel, and he’s also the lamp and guide in the darkness.
- In Christ, there is life and peace and hope. He will strengthen you and help you. Hurry again to him.
- He has given you us, too. You are never alone in the dark; he is with you, and so are we.
- It’s also possible that, even as a Christian, you feel a bit of an “outsider” – like you don’t quite fit among Christians.
- But you’re a child of God. You can’t be more “in Christ” than you already are, which means you are wholly part of his body, his church.
- If you feel outside of things, then I’m sorry. Forgive us, and let me know so that we can begin to repent and heal together.
A church can actually act like the Jericho crowd.
- It’s easy to exclude people who “aren’t like us.”
- Do the way we dress or speak or evangelise exclude the blind beggar or a wicked tax collector, a homeless person, a drug dealer?
- “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus lives and seeks to save you. Hear him, and go to him.
Praise him and trust him, and be sure never to stand in the way of someone who needs him (which is, of course, everyone).