(This is another repost from August 23, 2008, originally published under the title: Jesus Came to Save Sinners [go to the link to see previous comments])
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?