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For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. - Luke 19:10 (ESV)
My wife Sharon and I love Mission Impossible. Ethan Hunt receives a message that delivers his mission fraught with justice and risk which means the adventure is about to begin. The message plays and Ethan has the option to accept his mission or walk away. “Here’s the mission, here’s the reward, here’s the risk. It’s up to you to say yes.” Then the message goes up in smoke. It’s good for the movies that he always says “yes” to the mission. It makes for a spectacular adventure.
Jesus had a mission. He came to seek and save the lost. As the Son of God, He could have chosen an easier way to redeem us to the Father. But He didn’t take the soft route. He accepted the mission with its reward for justice as well as the risks that came with it.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He gave us a mission too. Much like the message Ethan would get, Jesus’ message is clear and challenging: “Your mission, if you choose to accept it - ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…’” (Matthew 28:19 ESV). Go. Don’t sit. Don’t wait. Don’t observe. GO!
Jesus said “yes” to living His life on mission - a mission that healed the hurting, gave life to the dying, brought freedom to the enslaved. He said “yes” to US. Aren’t you glad He did? I know I am.
Now we have the choice to accept the mission - to heal the hurting, give life to the dying, bring freedom to the enslaved. The risk is great, but the reward is greater. And it makes for a spectacular adventure.
Will you say “yes” to the mission?
'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' - Luke 19:1-3 (ESV)
Every time I say “yes” to something, I say “no” to something else. This is great for prioritizing my time. It forces me to weigh the value of what I agree to.
I like structure. Any significant interruption to my schedule can throw me for a loop. I get a funky feeling that screams, “All is not well! Order has been disrupted! It’s Thunderdome up in here!” Any OCD-plagued people with me?
But ministry happens outside of my schedule when God moves me into a discomfort zone. His interruption is the antidote to contentment and selfishness. My attention is turned from me to someone else.
Jesus was just “passing through” Jericho. He had no intention of stopping. Zacchaeus wasn’t on His schedule. He didn’t call ahead. He just popped in.
Zacchaeus wanted and NEEDED to see Jesus. Jesus noticed him and decided to say “no” to passing through and “yes” to the interruption of Zacchaeus. We’re going to see through this story that ministry really does happen outside of what’s scheduled. Zacchaeus’ life was changed because Jesus said “yes” to the interruption to reach someone who needed Him.
We know people who don’t know Jesus but need to. They don’t always show up when it’s convenient. We must be so sold out to the mission that we welcome the interruption so that we can show them the love of Jesus.
Will you say “yes” to the interruption to reach someone for Jesus?
'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.’ - Luke 19:4-6 (ESV)
My friend Max loves to talk to people about Jesus. When the server comes to the table, he always brings up church or Jesus. When the clerk gives him his change at the store, same thing. Homeless person on the side of the road? You guessed it, Max is bringing up Jesus. Max lives his life on mission for God. He’s sold out to it. It’s not just something he does; it’s who he is. Max will always say “yes” to a conversation about Jesus with whoever will listen - and even someone who won’t!
Honestly, I get nervous about those conversations. I have them easily with someone I’ve built a relationship with. But a stranger? Whew, that’s rough! Why is that?
I think I fear rejection, being mocked, and being laughed at. And that’s a dumb thing to fear when the conversation can lead to the best thing a person will ever hear.
Jesus noticed Zacchaeus and, because He lived His life on mission, He stopped and said “yes” to a conversation with him. Jesus loved Zacchaeus too much to worry about rejection. And Zacchaeus? Well he jumped down and received Jesus “joyfully.”
Our friends who don’t know Jesus, need Jesus. They need you and me to be more like Max. More like Jesus. They need us to live on mission, to say “yes” to a conversation about Jesus that will change their life forever.
Will you say “yes” to a conversation with someone about Jesus?
And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” - Luke 19:7 (ESV)
Have you tried out for a sports team, auditioned for a play, or ever run for a political office? I’ll never forget the stress of trying out for teams as a kid. Putting myself out there and opening myself up to the criticism of others was a risk I always hated to take. I wanted to be accepted and I sure didn’t want to get ridiculed.
When we put ourselves out there by saying yes to the mission, we accept the potential for reward as well as the risk that goes with it. Ethan Hunt knew there was always a risk with the mission. Our mission has its share of risks, too.
Jesus loved to be around people who needed Him most. That meant He spent time with people who the well-put-together religious types looked down on. So every time Jesus diverted His attention and began a conversation with a lost or hurting soul, He risked being attacked by the people who didn’t like it.
When Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house, the reward might be to see Zacchaeus’ life change. But the risk was to further enrage those who wanted Him dead. Jesus added fuel to the fire. And the people began to complain about it. They defiled His name. They slandered Him. They judged Him and criticized Him. This could not have been easy.
When we say “yes” to living on mission, challenges will come our way. It can be risky to our reputation. But the reward of the mission - bringing people to Jesus - is worth the risk. It’s what makes it an adventure.
Will you say “yes” to the risk?
Today salvation has come to this house. - Luke 19:8-10 (ESV)
Something amazing happened this week in Central Kentucky. Skyline Chili opened a restaurant. When I was at Cincinnati Christian University, we ate Skyline all the time. It became an obsession. Before the store in Lexington opened, I received an invitation to attend an open house. The problem is, the restaurant is about 30 minutes from my house and I didn’t want to give up part of my Saturday so I chose not to go. For the last few days, I’ve heard from my friends who attended and now I’m sad that I missed out on the goodness of free chili. I said “no” to showing up and now I regret it.
How cool would it have been to be at Zacchaeus’ house that day to watch the transformation in his life because of Jesus? He went from being a stingy hoarder of money to a generous, sacrificial giver to the poor. Zacchaeus was changed because Jesus said “yes” to the mission, the interruption, a conversation, and to the risk. And those who said “yes” to being present with Zacchaeus got to see the miracle of heart transformation.
When we say “yes” to being present - to walking with people who begin to experience Jesus - we get to see something amazing. We get to see the reward of the mission come to life and it’s something we will never regret. We’ll be grateful that we said “yes” to the mission, the interruption, the conversation, and the risk. And when our friend is changed before our eyes, we change too. We fall deeper in love with our Savior when we witness the power of His grace. Don’t miss out.
Will you say “yes” to being present with someone as they experience Jesus?