The greatest reason for the Incarnation - Luke 19:10 – 'For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.'
The other great works were attempted and accomplished for this purpose: the destroyer of death, the victor over satan, the overcoming of the world, the glory above all, the creation of all things new. The saving of the lost was the joy that was set before Him, and He endured the cross, despising the shame.
The prophets spoke of the coming One Who in the fulness of time would be made manifest. Then the Word was made flesh. The Son of man is come to seek and save, now an accomplished fact. He healed the sick, fed thousands, cast out demons, and raised the dead. From Bethlehem to Calvary, we have the record of 'Immanuel – God with us'.
As Jesus was uniquely born into the family of man, as uniquely coming from heaven, the Son of God.
He still seeks that which was lost. 'He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.' This is now done through His Spirit and His followers. He said, 'Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world.' Who are these 'lost'? The shepherd seeks to find the sheep that has wandered away. In a war, the physician turns to those most severely wounded first. The least wounded would be last. Those healthy would not even be considered.
The question: the proud Pharisee, thinking himself perfectly holy, what value will he see in Jesus Who comes to wash away his sins? He doesn't perceive his blindness. Those that perceive no sin see no need of a Savior. The truth is that all are sinners whether they admit or recognize this. It is only those who are aware of their sin that also recognize their need of the only Savior in Jesus Christ.
The word 'lost' brings to mind many dreadful images. Being in a place where you are not familiar, where you know neither which way to go or how you got there. There is a sense of desperation and panic, and a just as desperate search for help. There can also be a loss of hope, and inability to act.
The word 'lost', from God's point of view, describes our condition in relation to Him by our fallen nature. This includes being unaware of what our relationship with God ought to be and what we are responsible to do towards Him in our thoughts and behavior. We are brought up with many rules of right and wrong in relation to ourselves and others, yet with willfulness and selfishness acting contrary to what is right. We not only do wrong, but also purposely don't do what we should.
Then there are sinful habits that seem to control us and drag us further in the wrong direction. Weaknesses are easily given into. We are lost by our own volition. We have no love for God Who made us, we have no trust in Him, we have no will to follow His plan for us. We do not see the truth, nor what is righteous, nor what leads to heaven. We are completely lost!
To be lost for eternity in outer darkness far from the love and light and forgiveness of the Father and Jesus is torment and anguish unimaginable. There is no hope. The choice was made to reject the salvation in Christ. Only torment and despair remain.
Glory be to God Who from before the foundation of the world had a plan to seek and to save that which was lost. That Jesus came to earth to do. There may be some that are seeking Him, but He was seeking them first. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of the work of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This from the boundless love of the Father Who sent the Son for this purpose.
To be saved means we have been found by this love and experience the joy and peace it brings. The relationship with the Father and with Jesus is both close and eternal. And while we complete our pilgrimage here, we long for our eternal destination, the home Christ has prepared for us and which He shall one day bring us to. What a glorious promise and just as certain is our hope.
We were lost in the legal sense of having been completely unable to keep God's law of even having the motivation and ability to try. This condemned us to death. God sent Jesus to take upon Himself the sin of men. As our substitute, He bore the sentence and punishment. He bore the wrath of God so that He could justify those that believe in Jesus. Jesus has taken away the penalty and curse due to sin. We are also saved from the power of satan. The seed of the woman has bruised the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). We are saved also from the power of death. The price was paid once for all.
The seeking continues. Deep seated prejudices must be overcome. Many ignore or stay away from where the Gospel is preached. Some consider themselves too well-off, or too smart to fall for this. Jesus must seek among all classes in spite of their wantonness and self-serving. This is the continuing work of the Holy Spirit. But most find no advantage in the Good News. They have no use for spiritual information. The noise of the world holds their attention.
Those in sickness seek a solution, and those in loss or strife seek a way out. The Holy Spirit works on men's hearts, to bring them to awareness of their true spiritual condition, that they may become receptive to the Gospel of mercy and saving grace. The Gospel is offered as a release from captivity, a freedom to have peace and joy and hope for heaven and eternity. This work of the Holy Spirit to convict and draw the heart to faith, trust, and a relationship of love with Christ.
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church in Lake City, SC, on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. Be sure to visit the author's full list of Bible Study Lessons by book for all of his free lessons.