Most of us know the story of Zacchaeus climbing the tree to see Jesus (Lk 19). Have you ever noticed the “seeking” aspect of it? The story starts out by mentioning the fact that Zacchaeus is seeking (ζητέω) to see Jesus (v3) . A the end of the story we learn that Jesus’ mission as Messiah was to seek (ζητέω) and to save the lost (v10). As the great hymn goes, “It was not I that found O Savior, true! No I was found, was found of Thee.” Geerhardus Vos explained this beautifully when preaching on the Zacchaeus story:
Open to Him (Jesus) are a thousand ways to bring you and me to the very place and point where He desires to meet us. How many of us would have been saved, if the Lord had waited till we sought Him out? Thanks be to God, He is a Savior who seeks the lost, who with eyes supernaturally far-sighted discerns us a long way off, and draws our interest to Himself by the sweet constraint of his grace, till we are face to face with Him and our soul is saved.
As once, in the incarnation, He came down from heaven to seek mankind, so He still comes down silently from heaven in the case of each sinner, and pursues his search for that individual soul following it through all the mazes of its waywardness and the devious paths of its folly, sometimes unto the very brink of destruction, till at last his grace overtakes it and says, “I must lodge at thy house.” For, besides the divine omniscience here manifested, we are made witnesses of the Lord’s sovereign and almighty power. Having found Zacchaeus He addresses to him that call, which makes the lame to leap, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, nay the dead to arise, a call like the voice of God at the first creation, “Let there be light, and there was light;” “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must abide at thine house.”
Note the instantaneous effect. Behold here Zacchaeus, who perhaps never before had encountered the Savior, who would have hardly ventured to approach Jesus, behold him at a single word transformed into a disciple of the Lord. He knows the voice of the Shepherd immediately, makes haste to come down and receives him with joy. This is that wonderful effectual calling by name, which takes place wherever a sinner is saved, and which, while it may not always take place with such suddenness and under such striking circumstances as happened here, yet is in substance everywhere equally supernatural and immediate. The use of the divine word, not only does not detract from its immediacy, but serves the very purpose of expressing the fact that nothing but the omnipotent volition of God is at work in it. For it is characteristic of God, and of God alone, thus to produce effects by a mere word. He gives life to the dead and calls the things that are not, as though they were. Thus Lazarus was summoned from the grave, and thus Zacchaeus was brought into the Shepherd’s fold.
If you want a rich God-centered and Christ-centered collection of older sermons for devotional purposes, I highly recommend Vos’ Grace and Glory. The sermons aren’t long, but they are deep and wide, so to speak; they are the opposite of trendy fluff! Indeed, they’ll point you to the grace and glory of our sovereign God!
The above quotes come from Geerhardus Vos, Grace and Glory, p. 52-3.
Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.