Column – The truth about salvation

Published 8:04 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

Who or what have you wanted to see so badly that you got there early. I mean, think of a time when you’ve gone to some effort just in order to see something or someone well. You might end up recalling a time when you did something you wouldn’t have seen yourself doing.

In 2018, my wife and I went to considerable effort to get decent seats for the induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That’s no small thing when you consider that there were about 70,000 people attending a mostly general admission event.

We planned carefully to know where we were going to stay. We worked to get a close parking place and upgraded our membership to get seating in a reserved section. Then, we showed up far earlier than we would to almost anything. All to sit as close to the front as we could.

You’ve done this for your grandchildren’s soccer games. You’ve done this at the beach to get the right location. Maybe you had general admission seats at a concert. Perhaps someone was speaking and you wanted to be able to sit up close. You did what it took to get ahead of the crowd.

I’m not sure what would make a grown man run just to get a decent seat. I’m not sure what would make a grown man climb a tree in public. Yet that’s exactly the effort we saw in Luke 19:1-10 as a man named Zacchaeus tried to see Jesus. I get that he was short in stature. That’s how our story puts it.

Urgency is on display here. There are at least four mentions of running or hurrying in our story. Salvation is what happened in this story, and it was important. Zacchaeus ended up getting far more than he bargained for.

A tax collector isn’t the likeliest candidate for chair of the Deacons in our Bible. Yet by the end of the story, Zacchaeus’ entire life had been reshaped by the presence of Jesus in it. Which might be a good clue to us about one truth when it comes to understanding salvation.

We love a good turnaround story. The Bible is full of them. In fact, if you pay attention to the Beatitudes, they are built on a chassis of unexpected values and outcomes. Esther is an example of a story that cascades with turnabouts we wouldn’t have seen coming at the very beginning.

Gideon led God’s chosen people to victory, and he himself didn’t even start out a follower of Yahweh at the time. Samson started out impossibly strong and had the best of fortune, only to lose his strength and his lofty place. In the end, though, Samson’s sight was not restored but for one last mighty deed his strength was.

In the Bible, rich become poor and the poor become important. The important become displaced and the displaced find their ways home. Home is taken away, only for a new home to emerge. You get the idea.

The Bible is an unfolding story that begins in Genesis with God using unlikely people to do unlikely things. Then, that book ends in Revelation with the story still unfolding. God is at work in our world now, today, just as God was at work in the world in biblical times. In fact, God is about the same work.

The truth about salvation in Christ is all about each of us getting a chance at our turnaround story. Our reversal. When Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ house, salvation came in the door with him. Zacchaeus seems to have been ready.

The truth about Salvation is that it’s not just an eternal end. Salvation is a gateway to becoming ALL that God ever intended us to be. You want to know what makes this story so important in the Gospels? So much of what happened in it was unlikely.

He became something new. He repented and he took action. He started to do things differently and tried to repair the damage he had done previously.

The truth about Salvation is that it’s supposed to be for us like it was for Zacchaeus. Oh, not the running part. Not the climbing trees part. But for Zacchaeus and for us, salvation isn’t about finish lines any more than it is about right now if it is genuine. Zacchaeus changed his present day, and when our salvation in Jesus Christ is real, it’ll change yours and mine, too.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.