B10 LENT - The Lost

St. Luke 19.vv.1-10

~ Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When 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". So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner". Zacchaeus 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". Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost". ~

"The Son of Man is come to seek and to save the lost".

Who or what are the lost? Not only St. Augustine, but many others, have referred to the generality of mankind as lost and in need of being found again by God. The phenomenon of dreamers so often experiencing the sense of being lost, of wandering around large cities but not finding their goals attest the well-known psychological experience of insecurity and loss. Those who strive to live Christian lives know that they cannot call themselves "just" persons who need no repentance, but we feel that it is stretching the truth somewhat to call ourselves lost souls. Is there, then, any message in the text for us? Are there lost things in our lives which by God's grace we can recapture? I am convinced that there are.

First, there are lost opportunities. We are all aware of the "if only" syndrome - "If only I had said or done ...; If only I had had the courage to witness, to speak out, was I simply thoughtless, or lazy, perhaps 'slow off the mark' ... was I afraid to appear different ... or was I unwilling to be involved?" Maybe the opportunity has been lost, but the experience remains in the memory and, please God, we may learn from it when a similar occasion arises. God is the God of more than the second chance. We see this in the cases of Peter, Zacchaeus and so many New and Old Testament characters.

Secondly, there are lost ideals. In this world we experience disappointment with circumstances with the world as it is, with colleagues, family and friends, but most of all, if we will but admit it, with ourselves. Jesus was patient with his disciples and with us. Jesus is the only one who can restore our faith in the world and in ourselves.

Thirdly, there are lost enthusiasms. How often we start well, but become bored, frustrated, disillusioned. Then is the time to remember that Christ is the Lord of Power and Might, that with him nothing is impossible. The victor asks us to share in his victory.

Fourthly, there is lost happiness. If ever anyone had problems, it was Christ. If ever anyone had cause for sadness, indeed, for despair, it was Jesus; yet what do we find? We find that right up to the end of his so short life, he continued to speak of his JOY. He promised his joy to his followers, a joy based upon his trust in an ever-loving, ever-caring Father. He came that our joy might be full. He knew that "joy that seekest me through pain". The joy of Christ continually breaks through for those who love him. In this world so many people are seeking to find happiness as an end in itself, unaware that happiness is, or should not be, a goal in itself, but a by-product of loving service. No wonder, then, that Jesus was a happy man!

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