The Search-and-Save Mission

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 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.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:1-10

The word advent means “coming.” In this season of the year, we focus on the meaning of the coming of the Son of God into the world. And the spirit of our celebration should be the spirit in which he came. And the spirit of that coming is summed up in Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The coming of Jesus was a search-and-save mission. “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

So Advent is a season for thinking about the mission of God to seek and to save lost people from the wrath to come. God raised him from the dead, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). It’s a season for cherishing and worshiping this characteristic of God—that he is a searching and saving God, that he is a God on a mission, that he is not aloof or passive or indecisive. He is never in the maintenance mode, coasting or drifting. He is sending, pursuing, searching, saving. That’s the meaning of Advent.

The book of Acts is a celebration of this advent heart of God’s—on the move to seek and to save the lost. It’s a narration of Jesus’s ongoing advent into more and more peoples of the world. Acts is the story of how the early church understood the words, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). It’s the story of how the vertical advent of God in the mission of Jesus bends out and becomes the horizontal advent of Jesus in the mission of the church. In us. Jesus came into the world at the first Advent, and every Advent since is a reminder of his continual advent into more and more lives. And that advent is, in fact, our advent—our coming, our moving into the lives of those around us and into the peoples of the world.

– John Piper,
The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, pages 15-16

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