Grace: Freely Received

Remember the great need you
have of the grace and 
assistance of God. You should
never lose sight of him--not
for a moment.
       ~Andrew Murray~

Luke 19:1-10 - NIV

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'”

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.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Outside Looking In

This dramatic story narrated by Luke captures what the mission of Jesus was all about. He came into the world for a singular purpose: To seek and save what was lost.

By way of background, nothing in first-century Judea was hated or more despised as was the Roman tax. Not only did it remind Jews that they were a subjugated people, it also represented a theological affront.

To the Jew there was only one King, and that was God—not Caesar. So paying tribute to an earthly, non-Jewish monarch was something the Hebrews had opposed throughout their long history.

The dirty work of collecting taxes was done not by the Romans, but by collaborating Jews. And much of the money collected off the backs of their fellow countrymen stuck to their own sticky fingers.

We are told that Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, which meant that he was in charge of the system of taxation for an entire district. He may have been short in stature, but he possessed wealth, and just like nowadays, in the first-century wealth meant power.

Zacchaeus was the little man with the big reputation. He had a fine home in Jericho and although he likely had more enemies than friends, he had the outward appearance of success.

Of course one might take issue with Luke in that descriptive term wealthy. In many ways Zacchaeus was as poor as anyone in Jericho—as poor as any of us. For all his money he was a lonely and empty man. 

In the world of the flesh he had everything—in the world of the spirit he had nothing. People looked upon him with complete contempt. He was a dog, cut off from communion with the community of God.

Zacchaeus was prevented from seeing Jesus that day not only because of his short stature and the press of the crowd, but also due to social and religious ostracism. He was quintessentially on the outside looking in.

Yet here in this episode, we learn that Jesus deliberately reaches out to the outcast—there is intentionality in his actions. His example is to be our model for living out what we say we believe.

There are many who are bored, burned out, broken, tossed aside, and forced to be on the outside looking in. No matter their station or status, for them something is missing in life.  

They feel lost, cut-loose, alone, abandoned, betrayed—that term lost can be misused and abused. Some wield it like a club that confuses those who are sincerely seeking to comprehend their spiritual dimension. Being lost isn’t always as obvious as some think. 

For the Son of Man came to seek
and to save what was lost.
    ~Jesus of Nazareth~

Reaching Out

Once upon a time a little boy got separated from his parents in a large shopping center. He wandered with a curiosity that kept him fascinated by all that he saw. There was no fear or worry in him as he went down one aisle and then meandered along another.

Meanwhile, his parents were frantic. Their anxiety ratcheted up to near panic levels. After reporting to Security, they began a haphazard search that only served to stir up their emotions.

Using their grid of cameras and putting into practice their training, the Security Team quickly located the child. They took him to the office, paged the parents over the intercom, and while waiting for them to arrive, the guards bought a large ice cream cone for the boy.

When the distressed mother and father arrived, they were surprised to see their son happily eating his ice cream. He smiled at them between licks, completely unaware of their angst.

Suddenly, as they gathered him up in their arms and embraced him, the boy burst into tears. Evidently he didn’t realize he was lost until he was found. And there it is, the reality of the human condition—the human dilemma of being lost sinners.

C. S. Lewis used this illustration that helps us grasp what it means to be lost and found. He said that in the incarnation, Jesus was like a diver in search of valuable pearls. Jesus is God the Son in heaven looking down into this dark, slimy, murky water—that’s our sinful, polluted world.

Jesus dives in—he gets himself wet and grimy. And then when God the Son emerges from the water, dripping wet and covered in stench, he’s holding the precious thing he went down to recover.

The precious thing is Zacchaeus—the precious thing is you and me, and all those who have trusted in Christ. Faith in Christ is how we get out of the grunge of tax collecting, cheating, lusting, lying, hating or whatever other self-destructive sin we are buried in.

God in Christ descended into the mucky ooze to rescue us. Resolutions and vows to be better won’t help by themselves—we don’t have the power to keep them. We are stuck on the sea bottom—we have no strength of our own to get up or be free. All we can do is cry out in desperation for God’s grace to rescue us.

Don't pick on people, jump on
their failures, criticize their
faults--unless, of course, you
want the same treatment. That
critical spirit has a way of
boomeranging. It's easy to see
a smudge on your neighbor's
and be oblivious to the ugly
sneer on your own.
    ~Jesus of Nazareth~
       ~The Message~

Rainbows are tangible examples of God's grace. Do you believe God's grace is for everyone?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Maybe
  • No Opinion
See results without voting

For Everyone

The most difficult aspect of our faith is to understand that there is no difference between us and the chief tax collector. We do not deserve God’s grace any more than the vilest offender deserves God’s grace—no one deserves grace.

A truth about human nature is that we are judgmental. We make holier than thou judgments based on bias or flimsy evidence—we silently condemn or dismiss those who do not fit our ideas, our style or our accepted patterns of behavior.

We forget that we are sinners—yes, sinners saved by grace—but we are still sinners, and our capacity for sin remains intact.

It is only by the grace of God that we are not defeated by sin. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, settled the point once and for all: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

No one can boast. Yet boast we do—it is inevitable because of the sin nature woven into our psyche. We demonstrate the sin of pride when we make silent judgments or condemn those mired in sin—or when our attitude belittles those on the outside looking in.

Pretending that we are better than anyone is sin—it is elevating ourselves to a position that is unsustainable. Reality will sooner or later cause us to crash off the pedestal we've perched upon.

Given our neverending aptitude to have feet of clay, it’s amazing that we never appreciate our common humanity. We so easily develop an ability to forget that God’s grace is for everyone—and grace has no limitations or boundaries.

The fact that the grace of God tracked us down means we have inherited a serious responsibility. We are to be conduits of that grace to others—we must live with the sure knowledge that the grace-soaked way God deals with us in our sin is exactly how we are to treat everyone.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and we are to actively participate in that ongoing search and rescue mission. May God help us to reach out with the grace we have freely received.

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Comments 58 comments

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

There but by the grace of God go I...

Great inspiring post!!!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

A good reminder. The tax collector at least had the grace to admit his state.


ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 6 years ago from Corona, California

masterful. thank you.


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

"We forget that we are sinners—yes, sinners saved by grace—but we are still sinners, and our capacity for sin remains intact." AMEN!

A great meditation that has successfully confronted us with the Christian task of reaching out in His love to the lost.

Thank you for sharing this profound insight.

Forever His,


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Ken, a fine hub that shows the inclusive nature of Gods Grace, imagine if we got what we deserved instead of this grace. I can speak for just myself and I know I'd be in for a terrible demise. I'll never in this life know the true answer as to what will come of my actions until I stand in judgment. Then I'll know for sure, Dusty


kathy little wolf profile image

kathy little wolf 6 years ago from Dusty Trails, Arkansas

((clapping))

beautifully done....

the Great Spirit is smiling....


fred allen profile image

fred allen 6 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

I rip my garment. I can't even lift my head toward Heaven as I weep. "Lord have mercy on me... a sinner.

You spanked me because of love my friend. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Carolina Muscle.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

dahoglund - Thanks for a good word. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

ecoggins - You're welcome. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

RevLady - You're welcome. Thank you for your encouragement.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dusty - Great point. Imagine if we got what we deserve? Not nice. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

kathy little wolf - Amen. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

fred - Peace, blessings & encouragement. Here's a daily prayer of mine, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."


jasper420 6 years ago

very inspiering thanks for the info


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

jasper420 - You're welcome. Thank you for sharing.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

Great Ken! I loved the term that we are to be "conduits of grace" (DEEP ONE..deep...)

Grace,grace,marvelous grace! I just bookmarked this!


A M Werner profile image

A M Werner 6 years ago from West Allis

Ken, the story of the boy who didn't know he was lost is perfect for this hub. Many people are aimlessly walking through life simply looking at everything going on around them without realizing they are lost. Only with open arms and heartfelt compassion, can we reach them Peace.


kimberlyslyrics 6 years ago

Ken, you rock.

What a beautiful hub

rated it up

sorry i have not been here more

xo

kimberly


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

bayoulady - Thank you. I can't remember when I first thought of that "conduits of grace", but it stuck in my head. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

AM - Thanks for sharing thoughtful words. Much appreciated. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

kimberly - Great to see you. Thank you for the encourging words. Blessings.


D. Calhoun 6 years ago

The story of the little boy who didn't know he was lost until he was found describes very well the human condition. Thanks for sharing it.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

Love this hub! It disturbs me that I am so judgemental sometimes, one of the truths of human nature that you mentioned. I pray that I could see everyone through the eyes of God. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy and sometimes it is hard to believe He extends the same grace to the worst of sinners (child moletstors, etc.) But He does - which is part of His awesomeness. Thanks for a great reminder of His grace, which is freely given!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Dorance


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Cari Jean - You're welcome. Thank you for your honest words. It's always a challenge. Blessings.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 6 years ago from North Carolina

An excellent statement of grace. As the hymn says, "The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment a pardon from Jesus receives." And if God didn't make grace available to the worst of thugs, it wouldn't mean nearly as much for everyone else. For that matter, how do any of the rest of us know that we're any less vile in our own way than a serial killer? Praise the Lord!


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Brother Ken; I loved this Hub especially the story of the little boy roaming through the shopping mall not knowing he was lost or even missed until he was told. This story reminded me of when Jesus as a child went missing from Joseph and Mary as they travelled and His parents found Jesus teaching in the Temple. He too didn't know He was missing or lost until He was informed by Mary. Jesus comment to Mary we all know.

Brother Dave.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

Thank you Ken, for reminding us that God's grace is for everyone, undeserved, unmerited favor. Many are lost, and don't realize it. And when they are found, they too will weep with the relief of the boy.

Namaste brother.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Ken, This is another really good inspirational hub on the amazing grace of our Lord. The story of the boy was a very good example of many of us as sometimes we don't don't know we're lost until we are found. Being conduits to others is a big responsibility. God Bless.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

allpurposeguru - AMEN. Good words. Thank you. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dave - Thank you. That's a good lesson about Jesus. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Deborah - You're welcome. Thank you for your words of affirmation. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Pamela - Thank you for sharing. Your words are much appreciated. Blessings.


Sundaymoments profile image

Sundaymoments 6 years ago from United States

Great Hub! God really spoke through you!!


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 6 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

We are all "little" at some time in our life. It is that when we stop looking down on ourselves and look up more to Christ then we have a chance to settle at the level where He will always find us- that is humility. Thank you for that very important lesson.:)


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you, Sundaymoments.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

CMCastro - You're welcome. Thank you for your good words.


2besure profile image

2besure 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Great teaching Ken. I was that burned out, broken, tossed aside, and forced to be on the outside looking in person. Thank God so much for His love and grace to me.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

2besure - Thank you. Peace, blessings & much encouragement to you.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Ah, so I get to end the day with a smile. This was needed............... thank you~ kaie


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Kaie - You're welcome. Glad it was just what was needed. Blessings.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Great stories! I always loved Zacchaeus and the Sycamore tree!


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Wow! What a wonderful way you expressed that story.

´the little boy didn´t know he was lost until he was found. How true, how true. Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Micky Dee - Thanks. Glad you stopped in & enjoyed the visit. Blessings.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Dim Flaxenwick - You're welcome. Your words are much appreciated. Blessings.


Loves To Read profile image

Loves To Read 6 years ago

Ken you are a wonderful writer and have put this hub together so well. This is a well known and loved story but you have retold it with a great new twist. How true that mankind does not know they are lost. Our job here is to try and find them and bring them home to their loving Father. United we stand as one body for Christ.

Many Blessings


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Loves To Read - Thank you for your kind & thoughtful words. Blessings.


rdcast profile image

rdcast 6 years ago from God's Green Earth

Without sin, there would be no need for the Redeemer. Must we sin for this to work?


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

rdcast - Without sin perfection would exist on planet earth. It's obvious that is not so. God's provision & grace is desperately required.


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 6 years ago from Southern Minnesota

wow..loved this. Favorite quote "he didn’t realize he was lost until he was found...the reality of the human condition—the human dilemma of being lost sinners". Beautifully put. Thank you for your hub.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Tamarajo -You're welcome. Thank you for your kind words. Blessings.


matt6v33 profile image

matt6v33 6 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

"Well Done, Well researched,Well Prepared, Well Delivered, Well Expressed, Well Written"

Ken, were some of my thoughts, while reading...

Keep Going Ken, Keep Going! And yes, I do Thank God for You, and your awsome Heart, and God given abilities.

In Christian Charity,

Jim


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

matt6v33 - Thank you for your kind & generous words. They are very encouraging to me & much appreciated. Blessings.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Beautifully written. You have a gift, through God. Bless you in every aspect of your life. So nice meeting you on HB.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

vocalcoach - Thank you. You are so kind. Peace & blessings to you.


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

You've touched a lot of lives with this truth. And your 'mucky ooze' is just the thing we all have to need vast amounts of grace! Right on!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 6 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

frogyfish - Thank you. Your affirmation is much appreciated. Blessings.

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