The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)
Christianity is summed up in these words: Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we were asked to describe in a sentence the heart of the gospel, there it is.
There is no other news like this. Every other religion says it backwards. Every other religion tells us to seek. We are advised to climb trees like Zacchaeus, to depend upon our own exertion for any hope of ascending to the divine. We are told to bridge the gulf by our effort. If you want salvation, they say, then seek it.
In a sense, that is the world — we live in a planet full of seekers. We are, in one way or another, tree-climbers, maneuvering ourselves to gain some advantage, to achieve some perspective, to find personal peace. And then Jesus comes.
We are lost in our own seeking until Jesus comes and says to us, “Hurry and come down” (Luke 19:5). Stop your searching. Stop trying to save yourself. I have come to seek and save the lost.
Our exertion is then silenced. All our seeking — our trying to reach the divine on our own — is silenced when we learn that the divine has reached down to us . . . by becoming one of us. Here we are, spinning our wheels in hopes of getting God, and then God, despite our belittling works, comes to get us. That gulf we couldn’t bridge is the burden he takes upon himself.
We were lost, sinners who rightly deserve God’s judgment. And Jesus came to take the judgment for us. He suffered in our place on the cross, was dead and buried, and then on the third day was raised to life. He ascended to the Father’s right hand from where he reigns over all. Jesus sought us, and he has saved us, if we trust him. Do you believe this? Do you feel the wonder of this salvation?
Jesus, you are the one who saves, not us. Thank you for rest, for hushing the furious winds of our faithless works. Thank you for stopping the strivings of our souls. Overcome us more and more with the glory of your grace, and make our posture toward others echo this summary of your gospel: “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”