Before we posted our souls on social media, we had bumper stickers. Back in the day, the bumper was the place to vent malcontentment. And those posts were indelible. But now the younger generation has taken up the ancient mantle. No minivan is complete without its stick family of 5 and twin soccer balls emblazoned with the children’s names. And every hipster’s Subaru rear window has Nativ© headlining the Get-Out-There motif – a gallery, never complete without a quote from Tolkien — “Not all those who wander are lost.”
Indeed, not all wanderers are lost. But many are. And lost people want deeply to be found. You don’t have to read too many castaway stories or play hide and seek with many small children to realize that lost people are consumed with being found – they just don’t always understand what that looks like. The problem with being lost is that it is easy to be overlooked. Lost people are notoriously hard to see and recognize. How many lost hikers have heard the helicopters overhead and the calls of searchers long before they were found?
Children learn early that it is easy to be overlooked. When they play hide-and-seek they quickly grow impatient with lostness and hiddenness. The real object of their game is not to be hidden, but to be found. If not quickly discovered, they rustle the curtains or mimic wild animal noises from behind the couch. Nothing is more terrifying than the thought that Daddy won’t find them and they will remain hidden and alone. Lost people want deeply to be found.
But there is a lostness much more profound than the lostness of the castaway or the children’s game. To be lost from the love, care, and comfort of our Creator – to be aliens and strangers to the God’s promises and, by nature, children of wrath is a lostness the Bible describes as “deepest darkness.” When the Lord warned Adam, “you shall not eat [from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” He was speaking a death more crushing than mere physical death. In his first sin, Adam plunged himself and us into spiritual lostness and ruin.
The lost can feel the weight of their lostness, but cannot find any way to be found. And when you are this lost, it is easy to believe that you will never be found. Will anyone see us? Will anyone recognize that we are lost? Will anyone look for us? Does anyone know where we are? Will anyone care enough to come? These are the questions that keep us awake. We often speak of ‘finding ourselves,’ but only another – a rescuer — can find us when we are this lost.
Zacchaeus – the wee little man – in Luke 19 was lost. He tried to find himself in work and in wealth. And, in both he was at the top of his game. He was no mere tax collector, but the chief-tax collector. He oversaw all tax collection in Jericho, a fabulously wealthy and progressive city. And he was fabulously wealthy. But it came at a cost. Success cost him his identity and his integrity. His name, Zacchaeus, meant “righteous one.” But his reputation was that of an odious sinner. All he had gained was nothing compared to what he had lost. He was lost and longed to be found.
Perhaps Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus. That he was a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.” The religious establishment had no place for Zacchaeus in their lives or their religion. But maybe this Jesus would be different. Casting aside all pretense at dignity, he sought a vantage point from the branches of a roadside Sycamore tree. What kind of man was Jesus? He had to see. You might think at first glance that Luke 19 is a story about Zacchaeus looking for Jesus. But it is actually quite the opposite. It was Jesus who came to Jericho looking for Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus was unable to see Jesus because of the crowds and because of his size. But Jesus knew exactly how to seek and find this wee little lost man. Obstacles may obscure our view of Jesus, but are never unseen to Him. He knows how to seek and to find us. That was what He came to do. In this story Jesus is only days from the cross, but he pauses to seek and find Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10 is a remarkable story about the power of the gospel and the love of God for those who have wandered and are lost. Join us this Lord’s Day, July 26 as we examine this passage and see how God’s love for us unfolds in the seeking and the saving of Zacchaeus.