August 23, 2008

Jesus Came to Save Sinners

As I read through Luke, a chapter a day, I pray to the Holy Spirit that He would teach me to understand it rightly. I have been noticing that there is a common theme throughout the gospel of Luke, there is a certain emphasis, it seems. Luke makes it clear that Jesus came to seek and to save sinners. The parable of the Lost Sheep, the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Rich Young Ruler, all these stories and much more emphasize that people are sinners who are lost and need the right Shepherd to come and find them. Consider Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10 ESV:

"He [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through." [I remember another famous story about a sinner saved in Jericho, her name was Rahab the prostitute.] "And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich." [Of course, being a tax collector in those days was as low as scum, but Zac was a chief tax collector and was rich.] "And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way." [It is interesting how lowly sinful people were drawn to Jesus in the gospels.] "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." [Zacchaeus only wanted to see Jesus pass by, but Jesus wants to see Zacchaeus face to face. The Lord said he must stay at Zac's house. Wonder why?] "So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." [Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy. It makes me wonder that there are people who say they are Christians, but do not react with joy when receiving Jesus. Desperate sinners always find joy in the one and only Savior of sinners. On the other hand, the others could not equate themselves as low as this vile sinner, and so they had no lasting joy in the Lord.] "And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." [Zacchaeus was not ashamed to stand before the Lord and call Him "Lord." He acknowledged Jesus as his Lord, Master, King, God, Judge. 'Lord' means Jesus rules over my life. I belong to Him and submit myself to His rule and judgment. He must be our Lord if he is to be our Savior. This shows that Zacchaeus repented. Jesus had taught in Luke 13 that unless we repent, we will perish (Luke 13:2-3). Zacchaeus showed his repentant heart by what he did. Money was no longer his treasure - Jesus was.] "And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham." [Salvation came to Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus did not come to salvation - it was Jesus who came to his house. Jesus called him a son of Abraham, which meant he belonged to Jesus, was an heir of the promise, a believer (see Galatians 3:29).] "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." [Jesus, the Son of Man (God became a man - John 1:14), came to seek and to save the lost. Abraham's children are lost sinners, and here we see a wonderful example of the Savior seeking those He came to Save. Jesus said in John 10:28, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." Romans 5:8 says, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."]

As I read through Luke, it strikes me how much this theme is carried through. That Jesus saves sinners. What a hopeful message to wretches (such as myself)! It is the lost children of Abraham, who are lost sinners, whom Jesus came to save. We must repent when we receive Jesus with joy. Repentance is a positive two-fold action granted to us by the Holy Spirit. When we repent, we turn from treasuring sin to treasuring Christ (like Zacchaeus when he heartily gave away his riches, because he had a better inheritance in the Savior). Faith always sees more value in Christ than in the fleeting and damning pleasures of sin. As I walk with my Lord and Savior, my prayer is continually, "Lord, turn me from my sin, cause me to do what you command." I know that anything wrong I do is from my own evil heart, but anything good is a gift granted by my Lord, who came to save sinners - even the worst of them (1 Timothy 1:15). It always amazes me... Jesus came to seek and save the lost... and He never fails!

All I can say is, what grace! What a Savior! Can you relate?

10 comments:

Stephanie said...

What a hope-filled message! I've started to read through the gospels again and it's God's grace that is really standing out to me. We really don't deserve anything, but He gives us salvation. Amazing. :)

Your prayer made me think though - "Lord, turn me from my sin, cause me to do what you command." - I realize that without a regenerated heart (God's work) we can't obey, but once we're saved, does God really make us obey? I agree that we should pray for God's help in this area, but isn't the choice to obey God rather than the flesh part of our own free will? Hmmm...I'm probably just thinking too hard (as usual!) and reading more into what you said than you intended.

Angela said...

I think, in reference to Stephanie's comment, that God doesn't MAKE us obey, but the Holy Spirit convicts us so that it is hard to stay in sin. Everyone will still sin, but for a true follower of Christ, I think that by God's strength we are able to walk straighter than we did before, and that we grow stonger resistance to sin as we replace our temptations with truth. Penn, thanks for coming by my page, I always like to hear your thoughts on things. This is a good post: do you think that Jesus gives the chosen lives that are not so easy in order so that they will turn to him more readily?

penn (chief sinner) said...

Stephanie,
Thanks for your comments. It's good to know that you also are reading through the gospels! I'm on my second round this year through the NT, using McCheyne's daily readings. You're not reading too much into what I said. I wrote intentionally to help think through the questions that come up. My reasons for praying like that come mainly from reading and praying the Psalms (Psalm 19:13 and 23:3, Psalm 119, and also from Ezekiel 36:27). I have learned that the Bible contains very detailed theology on prayer. Have you ever prayed, "Lord, bring that person to faith"? If you have, then what were you asking God to do? I have studied this out pretty thoroughly in my own personal Bible reading, and have been greatly blessed. Phil. 2:13 and Hebrews 13:21 also provide some great insight. There is literally a multitude of more verses that show this kind of praying. Thanks for asking, I hope to encourage you to think even harder on these types of things :)

Angela,
Thanks for commenting. You have a good point about the Holy Spirit's work in leading us away from sin. If the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so that we sin less, then wouldn't that be God causing us to do something? At the least it would be Him leading. To answer your question: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28). Also Ephesians 1:11c, "...according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will." So, yes, God works difficult things in our lives for His own purposes - good for those who love Him, something else for those who don't. Hope that helps. Thanks.

cj said...

I just finished the book of John. I think I'll start on Matthew next.

Jesus came to save sinners(that means me)! What glorious news!

Thanks penn.
-cj

Stephanie said...

Thanks Penn. I'll look up those verses.

Penn Tomassetti said...

Hi CJ,
thanks for your comments. I just finished Luke this morning. Did you know the gospels are a type of literature in themselves, no other writings in all of history were ever written like them. They are portraits of the Son of Man and Son of God. Hope you read through Matthew.

Stephanie,
I'm sorry I didn't have space to write everything I was thinking when I listed those references for you. I am curious what you learn from checking them? Thanks.

Rita Martinez said...

This post reminded me of something Spurgeon wrote, titled "This Man Receives Sinners", sort of like a commentary of Luke 15:2
Its kind of long but worth the read:
"Observe the condescension of this fact. This Man, who towers above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners-this Man receiveth sinners. This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces-this Man receiveth sinners. It needs an angel's tongue to describe such a mighty stoop of love. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful- they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvellous.

"This Man receiveth sinners"; not, however, that they may remain sinners, but he receives them that he may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by his purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and enable them to serve him, to show forth his praise, and to have communion with him. Into his heart's love he receives sinners, takes them from the dunghill, and wears them as jewels in his crown; plucks them as brands from the burning, and preserves them as costly monuments of his mercy. None are so precious in Jesus' sight as the sinners for whom he died. When Jesus receives sinners, he has not some out-of-doors reception place, no casual ward where he charitably entertains them as men do passing beggars, but he opens the golden gates of his royal heart, and receives the sinner right into himself-yea, he admits the humble penitent into personal union and makes him a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. There was never such a reception as this! This fact is still most sure this evening, he is still receiving sinners: would to God sinners would receive him."

Penn Tomassetti said...

Rita,
Thanks so much for that Spurgeon quote! That is really amazing. Sometimes I wish I could talk as well as they did back in the 1800's.

Rita Martinez said...

"Sometimes I wish I could talk as well as they did back in the 1800's."
I know what you mean, you know I sometimes wonder, what in the world happened!?? how did the language get so degraded, and not just the english language even the spanish language...

Penn Tomassetti said...

Well, I'm glad they print Spurgeon tracts in Spanish, because now both languages can enjoy his powerful preaching. I get them from Chapel Library (mountzion.org) and give them to the Hispanics in Philadelphia.