You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost. At first this seems obvious. Or maybe at first it makes so sense at all. Either way, if you think about it, it could be either obvious or nonsensical. Or just plain weird to even think about.
And yet, it’s true.
I remember one time, years ago, before Google Maps. Even before Garmin and Tom Tom. I was driving out in the desert. At some point, I realized I was driving too long and hadn’t reached my destination yet. Yes – I was lost. Really lost. There was nothing for miles in every direction. Nothing visible except sand and scrub brush as far as the eye could see. Cell phones were, at best, a vision in someone’s mind. But there certainly wasn’t one in my car.
Next thing I know, there’s a Highway Patrol car behind me. I lowered the window, reached out, and signaled for him to pull over. Back then it was still an OK thing to get out of the car, so I did. These days – I’d be waiting with my hands on the steering wheel until he had a chance to finish running the background check on my license plate.
You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost
I was no longer lost. I still had no clue where I was. But at least I had new directions to turn around and get back on track. But if I hadn’t yet realized that I was lost, I would have let him pass me and drive into the distance. Eventually, I would have wished I had realized my situation in time to have stopped him.
Of course, eventually there would have been another Highway Patrol car, a small town, something ahead where I could have gotten back on track. As long as I had enough gas. As long as nothing else happened. Out in the desert, you just don’t know. It’s not like it was on the way to Las Vegas or something like that. I actually have no idea where it would have led to. There weren’t any cars except that one. Even then, I’m not sure I would have signaled for someone to pull over. And judging by my appearance at the time, I’m pretty sure no one I wanted to talk to would have stopped anyway.
And isn’t life like that?
You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost – why it came to mind
The “verse of the day” from biblegateway.com is
Lk 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Even though Jesus came to save all of us, if we don’t know we’re lost, we won’t be found. Even if Jesus is looking for us, if we don’t know we’re lost, we won’t pay any mind to Him.
You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost.
Now it sounds really weird, doesn’t it? I mean, how can it be that Jesus – the Son of God – can’t find us?
But let’s look at the context for that verse from Luke.
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Lk 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
There are a couple things to keep in mind here.
First, climbing up a tree is going to draw attention. Of course, from Jesus. But that’s OK, since it was a prerequisite to being able to see Jesus. As a short man, he’d either have to push his way to the front or somehow get higher than everyone else. He chose to go higher.
Second, as a tax collector, he had to know that the Jews in the crowd hated him. And by climbing that tree, they’d all know he was there. Apparently, Zacchaeus decided this was an acceptable price to pay, just to be able to see Jesus.
I wonder, how many of us today would do that kind of thing?
Lk 19:5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
So much for even the slimmest hope of not drawing attention to himself. Not only does Zacchaeus see Jesus, Jesus sees him. And calls him down out of the tree. But Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house!
This was a potential cause for alarm on at least a couple counts.
First, all those people in the crowd who hated Zacchaeus may very well have added jealousy to the list of things they had against Zacchaeus. Remember, people didn’t turn against Jesus yet. He was very popular. To receive a request like this was a great honor.
On the other hand though, the Jewish leaders now had more reason to hate both Zacchaeus and Jesus. Staying, including eating, at the house of such a horrible sinner – a tax collector – was scandalous. As we see in the very next verse.
Lk 19:7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”
Lk 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Zacchaeus was so touched, just from Jesus’ request, that he is having a change of heart right then and there.
Lk 19:9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Realizing that change of heart, Jesus proclaims salvation for Zacchaeus and his family. Jesus calls him a son of Abraham. Remember that in other passages, like the one below, Jesus told the Jewish leaders that they were children of the devil – not sons of Abraham.
The Children of Abraham
Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We see here that bring s disciple, following Jesus, requires more than just head-knowledge. It requires faith, of course. But it requires a faith strong enough that action follows as a result of that faith and belief. Please see Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God? for more on that.
Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
As often happens, even with us today, the people completely miss the point Jesus was making. They focused on the simple meaning of something He said. In so doing, they missed the deeper meaning underlying being a child of Abraham. The one about faith. They are lost, and don’t know it.
Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”
Jesus now expands on what it means to be a child of Abraham. Or not.
Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
But the people stubbornly hold onto the thinking that as descendants o Abraham, they are children of Abraham. That’s the Jewish view on genealogy. However, it’s not Jesus’ point. They are still lost, and still don’t know it.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
Here,s Jesus’ point about You are doing the things your own father does is completely missed. They are even more lost.
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
There’s a subtle hint as to what’s going on here. One that’s not in the Greek text from which this is translated. We can see the difference between father and Father. Lower versus upper case. We assume father is a person – Abraham. And we assume Father is God.
It’s interesting, although maybe not obvious, that Jesus uses a word translated as father in You are doing the things your own father does. Question – is Jesus talking about Abraham here? Answer: to be revealed soon.
But when the Jewish people reply, they use the same Greek word Jesus used. However, it gets translated as Father. They mean God.
Let’s see what comes next.
The Children of the Devil
Jn 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here.
OK – so Jesus makes it clear He’s not talking about their father being God. It’s about to be made crystal clear – with the lower case father in English. But still the same Greek word:
3962 προπάτωρ, πατήρ [pater /pat·ayr/] n m. Apparently a root word; TDNT 5:945; TDNTA 805; GK 4635 and 4252; 419 occurrences; AV translates as “Father” 268 times, and “father” 150 times. 1 generator or male ancestor. 1A either the nearest ancestor: father of the corporeal nature, natural fathers, both parents. 1B a more remote ancestor, the founder of a race or tribe, progenitor of a people, forefather: so Abraham is called, Jacob and David. 1B1 fathers i.e. ancestors, forefathers, founders of a race. 1C one advanced in years, a senior. 2 metaph. 2A the originator and transmitter of anything. 2A1 the authors of a family or society of persons animated by the same spirit as himself. 2A2 one who has infused his own spirit into others, who actuates and governs their minds. 2B one who stands in a father’s place and looks after another in a paternal way. 2C a title of honour. 2C1 teachers, as those to whom pupils trace back the knowledge and training they have received. 2C2 the members of the Sanhedrin, whose prerogative it was by virtue of the wisdom and experience in which they excelled, to take charge of the interests of others. 3 God is called the Father. 3A of the stars, the heavenly luminaries, because he is their creator, upholder, ruler. 3B of all rational and intelligent beings, whether angels or men, because he is their creator, preserver, guardian and protector. 3B1 of spiritual beings and of all men. 3C of Christians, as those who through Christ have been exalted to a specially close and intimate relationship with God, and who no longer dread him as a stern judge of sinners, but revere him as their reconciled and loving Father. 3D the Father of Jesus Christ, as one whom God has united to himself in the closest bond of love and intimacy, made acquainted with his purposes, appointed to explain and carry out among men the plan of salvation, and made to share also in his own divine nature. 3D1 by Jesus Christ himself. 3D2 by the apostles. 1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
These people are completely lost. And clueless. Therefore, they cannot be found. Even though they are right there talking to Jesus in person.
So – with that in mind, here’s some background on Zacchaeus in particular, and sinners in general.
ZACCHAEUS [ze-KEE-uhs: “pure”]. A.D. 30. A wealthy but dishonest tax collector in Jericho who became a follower of Jesus. Luke 19:1–10. 2)Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (p. 215). Nashville: T. Nelson.
TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS
When we consider men who were friends of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was especially close to ordinary persons and that He had great affection for “tax collectors and sinners.” Most of the population despised tax collectors as collaborators with oppressive foreign or local governments. “Sinners” was a term broadly applied in New Testament times by the religious elite. It included such persons as prostitutes, but at times was applied to the mass of ordinary people who were not as rigorous in keeping the rulings of the rabbis.
Jesus, who attended parties given by the tax collectors Matthew and Zacchaeus for their friends (Matt. 9:10–13; Mark 2:15–17; Luke 5:30–32; 19:1–10), was strongly criticized for being a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). Yet, it was sinners Jesus had come to save, and those who knew they were sinners were most responsive to Christ. Jesus not only felt comfortable with them; they felt comfortable with Him.
What a challenge for us today to be as loving and accepting as Christ was so we can communicate love for sinners while in no way countenancing their sin. 3)Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (p. 197). Nashville: T. Nelson.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost
Zacchaeus knew he was lost. And he also knew he could be “found” – saved – by Jesus. So he embarrassed the heck out of himself by climbing up a tree – in full view of people he had cheated – so Jesus could “find” him. And Jesus certainly found Zacchaeus. And potentially added to the embarrassment by calling him down from the tree. Truth is – the embarrassment could have been on both of them. On Zacchaeus, because if he had any hope at all of quietly seeing Jesus, that hope was totally gone. On Jesus, because here He was getting together with yet another of the people despised by the Jewish leaders. But neither was embarrassed. Both were overjoyed at the encounter. The found and the finder. The sinner who was saved – and the one who came to save the sinner.
You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost.
You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost. And unless you want to be found. And you won’t want to be found unless you’re also willing to potentially be embarrassed. Maybe by your own family. I’ve been there. And lived through it. Maybe by your friends. Been there too. And lived through that was well.
But when you’re found, you have a new “family”. And real friends.
We are / were all lost
There are two more things to realize.
First – we are all sinners. And, at some point, we were all lost.
Righteousness Through Faith
Ro 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
But just before that is something Paul wrote that explains the significance of this passage.
No One Is Righteous
Ro 3:9 What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
This verse, and what follows is all bad news. It sounds completely hopeless. The lost can never be found. But there is a way. Jesus. And that’s why the Romans 3:21 passage above is so important.
Ro 3:11 there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
Ro 3:12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
Ro 3:13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
Ro 3:14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Ro 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Ro 3:16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
Ro 3:17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
Ro 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Ro 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
So we see – we really are lost. We really all need to be found. But only after we want to be found. As long as we insist we aren’t lost – we really never can be found. So as long as we insist we aren’t lost, neither can we be saved.
Because – as Jesus said – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Being saved is a gift.
A gift that must be accepted.
But also a gift that cannot be accepted until we admit we need it.
Until we admit we’re lost.
Conclusion – You can’t be found unless you know you’re lost.
What about you?
Have you been found?
Or are you still lost?
Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay
|Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
|Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (p. 215). Nashville: T. Nelson.
|Richards, L. (1999). Every man in the Bible (p. 197). Nashville: T. Nelson.
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