There is a story about when JFK visited NASA and saw a janitor mopping up the floor. JFK asked him what his job was at NASA and the gentleman reply was, “I’m helping send a man to the moon.” Talk about understanding the big picture. This janitor understood the idea of teamwork and we are all a part of a much bigger extraordinary calling that we get to participate in. Jesus invites each one of us to partner with Him in His mission.
Luke 19 tells a story of a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in the bustling town of Jericho. Tax collectors were disloyal Israelites hired by the Romans to tax other Jews for personal profit. Tax collectors became synonymous for some of the worst kind of sinners because of these actions. Zacchaeus was a wealthy man that lived ostracized and hated by others because of his profession.
Jesus came into Jericho and told Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5). This is the only time we see Jesus mandating a visit at a person’s house. Early in their visit, Zacchaeus gives his life to Jesus because we see an eager desire to make restitution with everyone he had stolen from. His willingness to make restitution was the fruit, not the condition, of his salvation. It is in response to this that Jesus declares His mission openly, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
This is why we exist today. To further the mission of Jesus Christ by seeking and saving the lost. If you have ever wondered about your purpose and why you are here, this is your answer. Your mission and purpose are the same as Christ Jesus, to seek and save the lost. The lost don’t just need finding; they need saving. This is why Jesus came into the world — not only to find people, but to save people.
In Jesus’ mission, I love that God meets us where we are at. He does not tell us to clean ourselves up before coming to Him. He desires us to come with all our baggage and hurt to receive healing and freedom. The Lord met Zacchaeus right where he was at. In the middle of His corruption, greed, and extortion. The Lord meets us where we are at.
I also equally love that He tells us the truth about ourselves. I was recently stunned by the mind-blowing accusation Peter uses in his great Penetcost sermon. He said, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” ( Acts 2:23, 26). There are thousands of people in this crowd. We know that because 3,000 of them are actually going to become believers at the end of this sermon. Who knows how big the actual crowd is? He says to this crowd, “You killed Jesus. You’re responsible for the death of Jesus. You did this.”
How can Peter say to this crowd, “You killed Jesus. This Jesus whom you have killed…”? Is it true that you and I have killed Jesus? In some sense, very much so. You and I are responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. In Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, the only scene Gibson is actually in is a picture of Gibson’s hand clutching the hammer that drives the nail into the hands of Jesus Christ. It’s the only place he wanted to be in the movie.
That’s Gibson’s understanding, “I have some responsibility in this.” How can this be true? How can this be true that we would be guilty of the murder of Jesus Christ the Son of God? Well, let me walk you through. If you have a church background, you’ll know this. Let me start the Romans Road with you.
1. We have all sinned.
Romans 3:23 (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Look at the detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives according to Romans 3:10–18, “As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. 11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. 12 All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” 13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “They rush to commit murder. 16 Destruction and misery always follow them. 17 They don’t know where to find peace.” 18 “They have no fear of God at all.”
God tells us the truth about ourselves. You and I are completely guilty of falling short of the glory of God. This becomes so important for you to get and grasp. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. What we like to do is go to the kind of fruit of sin. “Well, adultery, drunkenness, debauchery…these are the kind of things that are sin.” Sure, but those are fruit of a deeper root. Let’s walk through the root of all sin and what we are all guilty of, regardless of how it shows itself in our lives.
Romans 1:19–23 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
The Bible would tell us every one of us, myself included, is guilty of these three things.
- We have all preferred creation to the Creator.
- We don’t want God; we want his stuff.
- We don’t want to worship the Lord; we want the things the Lord gave us in order to show us how great he is.
Did you know that’s what all good things were given for? So we might know there’s a Provider who loves us, cares for us, and has engaged us. Instead of having gratitude and desire to know the One who gave the gift, we just take the gift and run off like a spoiled, wicked Veruca Salt. That’s from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The girl who wants the goose that lays the golden egg, if you don’t remember. Then from there, not only are we all guilty of that, but everyone in this room, according to Romans 1, believes the lie over the truth of God.
2. Consequences of sin
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death! None of us like consequences or think we deserve them. It can be seen when someone who is going 30 mph over the speed limit that gets pulled over and pleads their innocence. They use every excuse in the book from the blinding son to a stuck accelerator. The fact is that cause and effect has always been part of the natural order.
3. Jesus’ death paid for the price of our sins.
Romans 5:8 (ESV)
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus’ resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins. God meets men and women where they are, and he tells them the truth about them. The truth about you and me is I am a sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God. Praise God that’s what he said. Because if God looks into my soul, looks into my mind, and says, “Man, you’re awesome!” then I’m going to be in trouble. I’m not going to be able to worship that God.
4. Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins – and we will be saved!
Romans 10:9 (ESV)
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 (ESV)
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
5. Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God.
Romans 5:1 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1 (ESV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God in Romans 8:38–39, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a powerful promise of the great love of God for everyone who has a relationship with Him.
Do you have a saving relationship with Jesus? If you were to die today and stand before Jesus, what would you say if He asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” There is only one answer to this question that escorts you into eternity. Make sure you have the correct answer. Your eternity hangs in the balance.