Last week, we looked at the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and heard Jesus tell that sinful tax collector "Today, salvation has come to this house."
What a difference it made that on that day Jesus calls "today" - Zacchaeus realized how much he needed Jesus. Today - Jesus changed Zacchaeus' heart by showing him that from this "today" on - Jesus' love would always be there.
And he's done the same for you and me. The reason for all of it is recorded in Luke 19:10, where Jesus makes his purpose clear, "The Son of Man (that's Jesus) came to seek and to save what was lost."
That's better than if he had used my own name in there. Someone else may have the name "Jonathan Scharf" - but the fact that he came to seek and to save "the lost" - well of course that's me. That's what sin made us. Based on our failures, we had "lost" heaven, we had "lost" our way, we were "lost." That is whom Jesus came for. He came for the lost, so we know we can always see him seeking us.
He came to seek and to save you. Even when you don't deserve it, when you realize how helpless you are without him, when you've figured out you can't handle it on your own. Jesus came to seek, to search for, strive after and find, to seek and to save what was lost.
When we see clearly Jesus' love that we so desperately need, our lives change. There is no way we can want to go back to being "lost" once he's found us. In today's reading from Luke 19, when Zacchaeus saw Jesus' love for him, he gave away all his wealth. He realized how attached he had been to it, and now his attachment was to Jesus instead, and like Jesus said, you can't serve both God and money. So Zacchaeus gave up his money because he wanted to serve God.
How many of you realize the pull of money in your lives (whether you have a lot of it or not much at all)? How many of you realize the problems your relationship with money has caused? Are you ready to write a check for half of your wealth to Abiding Grace?
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not asking for your money for our church. And Jesus doesn't say you have to go broke giving, either. I just want you to seriously think about that question to demonstrate to yourself whether you're acting more like Zacchaeus before or after he saw Jesus' love.
Jesus' love changed everything for Zacchaeus that day. and it changes everything for us today. Think about what it means that he came to seek and to save you.
Sacrificing all his comfort and honor, he stepped into your shoes and took your guilt. He paid for it with his blood on the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That's the day that matters, and today, Jesus wants you to know it.
You might be up a tree today like Zacchaeus, even out on a limb. And it may seem like you're all alone and that no one notices. But today matters, because today, Jesus is calling out to you. The one who died for you, he's calling out to you and saying, "Today, I want to be in your house. Today, I want to be in your life. Today, I want you because I love you." Today makes a difference. May God bless you as you live that difference today like Zacchaeus.
Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.