Saturday, April 1, 2023

God Is Still Searching (Luke 19:1-10)

Tom Tripp tells the story how Bob Russell found his stolen car after a 42-year search. 

In 1970, while Bob Russell was a graduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia, his 1967 Austin Healey sports car was stolen.  Over the years, Bob Russell kept the original title to the car and the keys, and he memorized the vehicle identification number.

During a sleepless night on May 11, 2012, Bob got out of bed and began surfing the internet. While browsing eBay, he saw his old car for sale.  After contacting the seller, getting a copy of the old police report through the National Crime Information Center, securing the assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department, and haggling with the seller over the buy-back price, Bob Russell and his wife Cynthia flew to California and took back ownership of the car on June 18, 2012.

Though the VIN plate had been removed, the glove box lock had been broken, and the lock to the trunk was missing, Bob Russell was delighted to get his car back.  He commented, “when it was stolen it was pristine; now it’s going to need a lot of work.  On the other hand, it’s been more than 40 years.  It’s very gratifying to get it back.

Just as Bob still possessed the original title to the car, along with car keys, the Lord Jesus also possesses the title to our lives because He bought with His shed blood.  We do not belong to the devil or to ourselves, but only unto Jesus Christ (1st Corinthians 6:19-20). 

Bob’s 1970 Austin Healy truly belonged to him, even though a thief and liar denied Bob the joy of experiencing his car.  Bob never gave up hope searching for what belonged to him.  Though the car was eventually returned to Bob, it did not come back in its original pristine condition but marred up, used and abused.  Nevertheless, Bob was glad to have his car back. 

This illustrative story corresponds with an impressive truth that Jesus will never stop searching for those who are lost, even though that the god of this world [the devil] has used and abused God’s greatest creation [mankind who is made in the image of God].  Someone has correctly stated, “God formed us; sin deformed us; Christ transforms us.” 

Luke recorded Jesus’ words for us:  “…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  In other words, THE HEART OF JESUS’ MINISTRY IS DESIGNED TO CHANGE THE HEART OF SINNERS.

Just as Bob had committed the car’s VIN to memory, Jesus knows His own and calls out His own by name, as He did with Zacchaeus – “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5b). 

Read Luke 19:1-10. 

The account of Jesus calling out to Zacchaeus and bringing salvation to Zacchaeus’ soul occurred on Saturday, the day before Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt [Palm Sunday].  I will devotionally address Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in tomorrow’s post.

Returning to the account of Zacchaeus, God chose to save this tax collector whose reputation was most wicked and despised by everyone.  Though not stated in this text, the Spirit of God convicted Zacchaeus of his sinful ways.  When a soul is convicted by the Holy Spirit, confession follows.  What is confession?  Confession is agreeing with God – acknowledging that God’s assessment of our lives is true.  As a result, Zacchaeus repented [turned away from] and changed his life and behavior.

Jesus knows what is in the heart of every person.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ heart which gave evidence that the tax-collector was saved!  Here are four evidences of a changed heart:

First, there is an eager heart:  Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus’ command was immediate obedience.

Second, there is a joyful heart:  Zacchaeus’ obedience to Jesus was undergirded with joy.

Third, there is a repentant heart:  Zacchaeus’ desire to make restitution was proper.

Finally, there is a faith-filled heart:  Zacchaeus’ faith in Jesus’ words and works pleased God.

“If you’re right with God, you’ll want to be right with others” [“Daily Bread,” January 21, 1991).

Here are some concluding application for our lives. 

1.  Beware of your lifestyle.  Sinners, yet to be saved are watching the lives of those who profess to be Christians.  Do not confuse them with an inconsistent lifestyle.  While God was at work in the soul of Zacchaeus, it is most likely that Zacchaeus witnessed the transformation of sinners and saw the peace in their souls, as sin and shame were let go.

2.  Don’t “write off” the most despised of sinners.  We cannot see what God is doing inside the souls of sinners.  Therefore, avoid becoming judgmental when you see others.

3.  Worship God with all your heart.  Whether private or public, express your thanksgiving unto God without any inhibitions.  Do not rush through your devotional time with God.  Linger in His presence.  Allow His Word to penetrate your mind and heart as you reflect and pray on His Word.

4.  Make right any wrongs you have committed.  Based on your devotional time with God, He may reveal to you an issue or two that must be addressed.  If it involves others, do not delay but go to that person and make it right.

5.  Search for and solicit sinners to follow Jesus.  Like Jesus, talk to God about sinners first, then go and talk to sinners about God.

6.  And if you are lost, know this:  Jesus was crucified for your sins.  The greatest demonstration of God’s love for sinners is the crucifixion of Christ (Romans 5:8).  Jesus rose from His grave three days later because He is the Author and Giver of life, both physical and spiritual.  Jesus extends His call to you – surrender your life to Him.  This is the only way to receive salvation.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved from the penalty of sin and to inherit eternal life with God the Father (John 14:6). 

If you have been putting off surrendering your life to Jesus, I hope by the mercy of God that you will hear the voice of Jesus calling out your name,                                   , make haste and come to me, now.”


Pastor Phil 

%d bloggers like this: