"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,"
Oh, how I love that truth!
In the Greek, 'sinners' is a word denoting "a traveler leaving the familiar road and taking twisted paths that cause him to loose his way." This great word picture reminds me of the life of Zacchaeus in Luke 19.
He was a Jewish man who worked for the occupying government of Rome, exacting taxes from his people. I imagine he was viewed as a traitor and a thief. Tax collectors surely weren't known for being honest. When repentant tax collectors came to John the Baptist and were baptized by him they asked him how they should go about living this new life and he told them to "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." (Luke 3:13)
Here is our intro to Zac:
"There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was..."
How beautiful is that!?
Anyone who seeks out the Lord is going to find Him. It is a promise! -"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
(another one of my favorite verses)
Of course, there were crowds all around Jesus and that made it difficult for a guy who was, "short of stature." But he was a resourceful fellow and "he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him for He was going to pass that way."
Then Jesus "looked up and saw him and said 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."' The fact that Jesus wants him to hurry down, makes me think he climbed up pretty high. I wonder if the twisted branches of that tree didn't rather symbolize the path his life had taken...
When the religious folks saw all this, they complained about Jesus saying "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."
(i.e -a traveler leaving the familiar road and taking twisted paths that cause him to loose his way)
Of course, He did!
Who else would He rather reveal Himself to!
The presence of the Lord had a life changing effect on Zacchaeus. He decided he wanted to give "HALF of his goods to the poor." And he repents of the past by saying "if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore FOURfold." Now, that is a change of heart! (The law of Moses said to make restitution by paying only 1/5 more of what you've taken)
Then Jesus proclaimed that salvation had come to his house that day and that he 'also is a son of Abraham.' He'd been a physical son of Abraham all along, but now he was a spiritual one and a partaker in the blessings of Abraham. The word salvation means deliverance, soundness, prosperity, happiness and rescue!
Zacchaeus was gloriously rescued that day from the 'twisted path that caused him to loose his way.' And Jesus declares that beautiful truth the He came "to seek and save that which was lost." Luke 19:10
"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." 1Tim.1:15
This makes me want to break out into a chorus of "I was once lost but now I'm found..."