Have you ever lost anything? Now, that’s a crazy question, isn’t it?
For many years I have diligently guarded my own car keys simply because my wife tends to lose or misplace hers. One time, she asked me to give her my keys because she wanted to get something out of our locked car in the parking lot but could not find her keys. I gave her my keys, and when she returned with the item she had wanted to retrieve from the car, I asked for my keys. But she could not find them. When I went out to the car o get my keys, the doors to the car were locked, and my keys were sitting on the front seat.
By the way, as I looked into the car, I could see her keys also on the floor in front of the passenger seat of the locked car. She had managed to lock both sets of keys in the car at the same time.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. I have also had many of the same sort of situations where I have lost or misplaced things as well. Haven’t we all?
Uber, the global ride-hailing service which has become a popular alternative to taxis in many cities, recently released some humorous data on items that riders accidentally leave behind in Uber vehicles after they arrive at their destinations. And, as any good technology company should, the analysts seem to have examined the data from every angle to extract any useful information. For example, the most common items lost include cell phones, rings, keys and wallets.
The most forgetful U.S. city is Los Angeles. The most forgetful day in 2016 was Oct. 30. Sundays saw the largest average spike in lost wedding dresses, and Tuesdays saw the largest average increase in lost bathing suits. The list rounds off with some of the most unique items left behind in Uber vehicles including: valuable Nordic walking poles, a lobster, corn hole boards, a potted plant, elf cut out, Nintendo, money bag and a violin.
One might conceivably wonder what sort of things you would find in a lost and found box or file that God might keep? In Luke 19:10, we read these words of Jesus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” What that says to me is that Jesus himself is in the business of recovering lost things, namely, lost people.
If you read the verses preceding that one, you know that Jesus was walking down the streets of Jericho and apparently attracting a lot of attention. There was a fairly large crowd surrounding him and walking with him as he worked his way through the city. There was this little guy, a short, little snobby guy named Zaccheus, who wanted to see him too but was late getting there and could not seem to see Jesus at all because of the crowd around Jesus. Add to that the fact that Zaccheus was the tax collector and one might understand why he was having so much difficulty.
Nobody likes tax collectors, do they? And in that day, it was especially true. Tax collectors were Jewish people employed by the Roman government to make sure that everyone paid their fair share. Each individual tax collector was given a quota by the government. They had to collect so much in tax revenue from the people. But they could then add their own surtax of almost any amount on top of the tax bill, and were permitted to keep the surplus. Most tax collectors (and we have no reason to suspect Zaccheus was any different) lived very well on their surplus collections.
Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus. I am convinced he had no intention of ever talking with him personally. He just wanted a glimpse of this celebrity passing through his town. When he could not get close enough to him because of the crowd, Zaccheus ran on ahead and climbed up into a tree. First of all, he picked a sycamore tree to climb. I am sure one of the reasons he chose that particular tree was that it most likely had a lot of leaves and he could be rather inconspicuous – or so he thought. Sycamore trees there are very slick-bark trees, and therefore rather difficult to climb into. But Zaccheus made the climb and thought he could see Jesus and not be seen.
But I am convinced that Jesus, as he walked by that tree, looked up into that tree, saw Zaccheus – it would have been hard not to see him – and laughed. Zaccheus would have ben dressed as most tax collectors were in a very classy way. Some might even call it gaudy. He would have been anything but inconspicuous sitting in the branches of that tree. And it would have been a humerous sight.
But Jesus saw him sitting there and said to him, “Zaccheus, come on down here and take me to your house. I want to visit with you there.”
Two thoughts come to mind as I think about that encounter: (1) Jesus called Zaccheus by name. He knew Zaccheus, even though they had never been introduced. And Jesus knows you as well, whether you know Him or not. And, like Zaccheus, Jesus loves you all the same. (2) Second, Jesus loves finding lost people. His lost and found may include liars, cheaters, thieves, executives, politicians, teachers, children – and even you.
The point: Paul’s words could describe each and every one of us: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.”
How about you? Are you lost today? Won’t you, like Zaccheus, seek Him?
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at [email protected].