Why did Jesus leave the paradise of heaven to come to earth where He would be rejected and despised by human beings? Luke 19:10 gives us the answer to this mystery: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (NIV).
From this verse we can learn (a) Jesus became a real human being, (b) His mission was to seek and save, and (c) His focus is on saving the lost.
1. Jesus the Son of Man
Jesus was a real human being. He was also God in human form. Jesus never gave up His divinity when He was born to Mary, but He deliberately subordinated His divine nature to His human birth. The main difference is that Jesus was born with a pre-fallen sinless human nature. He was the second Adam and a perfect sacrifice for our sins. His perfection now covers the imperfection of those who trust Him for salvation. God declares us perfect in His sight because of the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ.
2. Came to Seek and to Save
Not only was Jesus the perfect God/Man, but He came to earth on a rescue mission to saved lost humanity. The death of Christ was not an accident, but it was planned out prior to His coming to earth. It was God’s sovereign will that Christ would suffer and die for lost humanity, and it was Satan who attempted everything in his power to keep Jesus from going to the cross. But Jesus resisted all temptation to avoid the suffering and death that awaited Him. If Lucifer could not persuade Jesus to give up on lost humanity, then he would do everything in his power to keep Jesus from being the perfect sacrifice. But everything Satan did to avoid the blood atonement of Christ was thwarted by divine intervention.
What a mystery it is to consider that God is not hiding Himself from us, but that we are hiding from Him. He loved us enough to die for us even though all of us have gone astray. We don’t find God, it is God who seeks to offer us the gift of eternal life with Him.
3. The Lost
One of the most important elements of this verse is that Jesus came to save those who are lost. In context, Zacchaeus was considered one of the most vile sinners as a wealthy tax-collector, and Jesus invited Himself to this lost sinner’s home. To the Jewish people of Jesus’s day, it was a scandal that Jesus would associate with Zacchaeus, who was well know for cheating people out of money. How dare Jesus associate with filthy and corrupt sinners?
Jesus did not argue that Zacchaeus was not a sinner, but His purpose was to offer this tax collector a chance at redemption. The Bible says that Zacchaeus was impressed with Jesus and instantly promised to make restitution by giving half of his money to the poor. He also pledged to pay back those He had cheated out of money. Zacchaeus had a change of heart towards God and towards other people.
Not only was this an example of Jesus seeking out lost sinners in an effort to reclaim them to the family of God, but it was also a rebuke to the self-righteous experts of the laws of Moses who refused to admit they were not God’s chosen people as children of Abraham. Here Jesus was pointing out that only those who admit their lost condition as sinful human beings and turn to Him for salvation are the true children of Abraham.
Followers of Jesus are also called to His mission: To seek and save the lost. How often do we get preoccupied with our own welfare that we forget about those who have not yet accepted Jesus as savior. We preach to ourselves, but are we reaching the lost souls for whom Christ died?
If you, dear reader, have not accepted Jesus as your savior then what is holding you back? By accepting Jesus you will only be called to give up those things that are causing you misery and death. Do you feel that you can never be good enough to win God’s favor? Don’t fear, for Jesus specializes in saving those who know their need of divine grace and forgiveness. Jesus wants to give you peace of heart by granting you the free gift of eternal life.