Luke 19:1-10 (NRSV)
Chapter 19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. Verse 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. Verse 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. Verse 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. Verse 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." Verse 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. Verse 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Verse 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Verse 9Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. Verse 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."
Many years ago I worked with a woman who had the habit of pointing out the faults of others on our team and posing the question, "How can he or she call themselves a Christian?" Her attitude was that one must be a very good person, approaching perfection, to be a Christian. I've thought about her question many times since then. In all those years I have been unable to meet her standards for calling myself a Christian, one who is saved for a life with God. As a matter of fact, I have been a miserable failure.
I take particular comfort in knowing what Jesus told Zacchaeus: "The Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." Imagine that! Jesus seeks after me, a sinner who cannot live up to the standards of a good person. Through him I am saved; I am no longer lost. However, as I do get lost again and again, Jesus continues to seek me out. I can confidently say that I am a Christian, saved for a life with God, because of Jesus' promise to keep seeking after me — not because of what I have done, good or bad, but because of what Jesus has done for me. What a marvelous promise!
Merciful God, joining with all others who are imperfect, I give thanks that I share in the promise Jesus made to Zacchaeus, the promise that Jesus comes to seek and save those of us who are lost. Amen.