“For the Son of Man
came to seek
and save the l

— Luke 19:10 ​


Seeking the Seeker

Jeff Chesemore

Looking at the results of The RELATE Project, we can make many observations, but there’s a truth we know beyond a doubt: Adolescents without Jesus (like adults without Jesus) are lost.

Remember the last time you were lost? How did you feel? Disoriented, fearful, confused, uncertain, out of place, possibly even in danger?

Now imagine these feelings in the life of an adolescent. Kids have always been searching for connection, meaning, and purpose. Sadly, we know firsthand far too many who’ve looked for these in the wrong places.

The joy of every Young Life leader is to point kids to the One who’s pursuing them. The above verse comes from Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, a short man who is short on friends due to his profession as a tax collector. Working for the despised Romans, he charges extra money from his fellow Jews to line his personal pockets. Zacchaeus has heard of Jesus and wants to get a look at him, so he climbs a tree (literally goes out on a limb!) to see him. Here’s what happens next:

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly” (Luke 9:5-6).

How does Jesus respond to the one the townspeople call “a sinner”? He …

  1. Stops and initiates the encounter.​ He doesn’t make Zacchaeus run after him.
  2. Looks up​ — no one ever looks up (in any sense of the word!) to Zacchaeus, only down.
  3. Calls him by name​ — Jesus knows about the man’s reputation, but is warm anyway!
  4. Invites himself to Zacchaeus’s home​ — a sign of friendship.
  5. Says he must stay at his house today — implying this encounter has God’s fingerprints on it.

Up until now Zacchaeus believed he’d been chasing Jesus; really, it’s the Savior who’s been the pursuer all along.​ The lonely tax collector has never felt such joy, and as a result, acknowledges Jesus as Lord. He vows to make things right with those he’s cheated. He’s been found.

In Young Life, we take our cues from Jesus. We initiate with kids, see them, call them by name, build friendships, and share Jesus with them.

We can say without reservation that Jesus is the hope of every adolescent. And it’s our privilege to walk alongside each generation as they seek the One who is already seeking them.


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So, lastly, three questions:

  1. What was your introduction to Jesus like?
  2. Does it square with the Jesus of the Gospels?
  3. Do you long to know Him more?


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