Advent: Jesus Came to Rescue
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“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd, he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And 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 and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'” (Luke 19:1-10)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16–17)
Read: Luke 19:1-10, John 3:1-21
At the end of the day, Jesus came to rescue sinners. The manger, the cross, and the empty grave are all about God’s rescue mission. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This was the Lord’s mission and the Lord’s idea—only He could have imagined such a glorious rescue plan. As Jesus reminds us in John 3:18, the world was condemned already (meaning the world and all of mankind). We were condemned under the curse of sin even before being born into the world. This is the depth of sin’s consequence flowing out of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against the Lord.
In Luke 19, Jesus made His final march to Jerusalem for the Passover and His crucifixion. As always, there was purpose in His steps and intention in His words. He destroyed the religious leaders’ assumptions of who the Messiah would be and what He would do. Rather than claiming a governmental throne, the Messiah chose to eat in the homes of tax collectors and sinners. Rather than lifting up the religious elite, Jesus loved and healed the social outcasts. He healed the wounded and broken-hearted. Zacchaeus and others were sheep without a shepherd—until now. They heard the words of Christ and responded in humility, repentance, and faith!
“Jesus loved Zacchaeus when nobody else did. He was Zacchaeus’ friend, even when no one else was. Because Jesus was showing people what God’s love was like — his wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Lord.” – Jesus Storybook Bible
Nicodemus serves as a stark contrast (culturally and socially) to Zacchaeus. This religious leader approached Jesus by night to learn more about who Jesus was. We usually give him a bad rap for doubting Jesus and making light of being “born again,” but Nicodemus also affirms many true things about Christ. “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him'” (John 3:2). He is later mentioned in John 19:39 when he came to anoint Jesus’s body in the tomb. It is very likely that this conversation catapulted Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler, on the path toward faith and salvation.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Jesus Christ came to rescue sinners. This is a cause for great rejoicing! He is no respecter of family, income level, language, skin color, gender, or any other cultural division. Our God started a rescue mission in Genesis 3 and the Advent of Christ continued it.
- Praise God for this story of Zacchaeus’ salvation. This is a huge message of hope for those of us who have realized our own brokenness and separation from God.
- Remember that Jesus Christ has come to rescue you. He stands ready to offer grace and forgiveness to anyone who repents and turns to Him in faith. For Christ “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
- Be ready to proclaim Jesus’ rescue to those who are lost. If you already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then write down a 3-minute outline of the Gospel message. Read through passages like Ephesians 2 to help prepare for conversations that can point broken and lost people to the Savior.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for your redeeming nature. Thank you for the redeeming love that drove you to come to earth on a rescue mission for my soul (and others). Thank you for rescuing me regardless of the baggage, brokenness, and sin I carry. You loved me when I was still your enemy. Use me as your messenger this Christmas. Give me the love and boldness it takes to tell others of the rescue you have already performed for their souls.
Family Discipleship Time
- Why didn’t people like Zacchaeus? Why did Jesus love Zacchaeus? (Because he was selfish and stole their money. Jesus loved Zacchaeus because He made Zacchaeus in His own image, and He wanted to give him a new heart.)
- Was Jesus scared of what people would think if He showed that He was Zacchaeus’ friend? (No, because Jesus cared most about loving Zacchaeus and showing him that God wanted to rescue his soul.)
- How did Zacchaeus respond to Jesus after realizing that Jesus loved him and wanted to rescue him? (Zacchaeus gave all the money back to the people he stole from, and even more. Because Jesus loved him, he was able to love others.)
- Is anyone too bad for Jesus to rescue? (No, Jesus’ love and grace are greater than anyone’s sin or evil heart.)
- Kids Bible – “The man who didn’t have any friends (none)” from Jesus Storybook Bible
- Video – “Gospel of Luke: ch. 9-19” by The Bible Project
- Kids Video – “God’s Story: Zacchaeus”