For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)
This verse comes at the end of the story of Zacchaeus, a man, who like Jesus, was written off by his own people. Zacchaeus was a publican, or tax collector. As a Jew, Zacchaeus was considered a traitor to his own people because publicans collected the taxes that supported the Roman empire and they were known for being corrupt. They were so despised by the Jews that they put them in a class by themselves: there were sinners and then there were publicans. It did not matter that Zacchaeus was a godly publican, and one whose heart sought the Lord: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). To the Jews that didn’t matter. Zacchaeus was still a publican. That his life did not fit the narrative made no difference to his people. It made a difference to the Lord, though. When Jesus approached Zacchaeus, He did not say: “I would like to abide at thy house.” He said: “I must abide at thy house.” The Lord was on a mission to minister to Zacchaeus to let him know that “salvation was come to his house” (Luke 19:9). Why? Because Zacchaeus was moving in the right direction. “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:11). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8a). There are no qualifiers on those verses. They apply to anyone moving toward Jesus, saved and unsaved alike. We write off a lot of people that aren’t like us: drug addicts, alcoholics, homosexuals, fallen believers, etc. We even write ourselves off if we “mess up.” Jesus doesn’t write off anyone who is willing to come to Him because for Him no seeking soul is left behind.