Posted on : Wednesday April 1, 2009

Gayla Parker, WMU Executive Director/WMU,SBC Missions Innovator Specialist
Missionary for Missions Education/Customization

This past summer I witnessed an attempted robbery in downtown Baltimore. It was not one of my better days downtown! Several months later I received a letter in the mail informing me that I was being summoned as a witness for the prosecuting attorney. I spent an entire day sitting at the courthouse waiting! It is amazing what all you will read while sitting and waiting and sitting and waiting.  I read every magazine, flier, poster, newspaper and name plate at least three times. One thing that caught my eye over and over again was the “Be on the lookout for…” posters. We have all seen them. They are often hanging in the Post Office, the Courthouse, the Police Department and even Wal-Mart. Under the picture is a complete description of the person for whom the police are looking.

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you ever actually saw one of those “Be on the look out for…” people?  We might stare for a few minutes in disbelief.  We might avoid the person at all costs for fear of our lives! We might call 911 to inform the police. Most likely, we do not leave the bulletin board with the intention of going out to look for one of these individuals. But there is one group of people we are to be intentional about looking for and those are the people who are in need of Jesus and His love.

Jesus, in His ministry was always on the look out for people who needed His love. He found many throughout His ministry. Zacchaeus was one of those whom Jesus found. Zacchaeus heard Jesus was coming to town and he was curious about this man he had heard so much about. Rather than fight the crowd he chose to climb a tree.  Zacchaeus knew his own reputation and perhaps he feared Jesus would not be interested in a man like him.  He may have feared the anger he might experience from the crowd.  It may have been because of his short height. For whatever reason, Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus from a tree.  Even though he was having a difficult time seeing Jesus, Jesus saw him. As a matter of fact he was on the lookout for him and was making plans to be at his house.

When the crowd realized Jesus was going to spend the day with this man, they were horrified. Zacchaeus was hated and despised. He was a tax collector who had cheated many people. Surely Jesus could not know what kind of man Zacchaeus was; if He knew He would surely avoid and reject such a horrible man.

They were expecting Jesus to react like we might react if we saw a “Be on the lookout for…” person. Not because Zacchaeus was dangerous but because he was a hated outcast.

Jesus did not run when He saw Zacchaeus; instead Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus. Because of the acceptance and love Zacchaeus experienced when he met Jesus, he was dramatically changed. Not only did Zacchaeus change the way he did his work he took steps to correct the wrong he had done. Zacchaeus paid back all the money he ever collected with interest! He didn’t stop there, he made sure his family had the chance to meet Jesus. By the end of the day the entire household was changed.

I wonder if the person I saw attempt to rob a young nurse last summer had met Jesus prior to that episode, what would be different about his life? Would he be doing something different with his life?  Would he be trying to right some of the wrongs he had done? Would his family and friends see such a radical difference in him that they too would experience the love of Jesus in their lives? If his life were changed like that of Zacchaeus, I would assume yes.

Unfortunately there are not “Be on the lookout for…” notices for people without Christ. But Jesus knows each and everyone of them.  He came to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). He will reveal them to us if we are looking.

Are you on the look out? Be on a mission this month to seek the lost and point them to the One who came to save them.