For the Son of Man has come to save what was lost —
I was recently talking with someone about different views on our sinfulness. For some who have joined the conversation, ‘sin’ in the Aramaic means ‘not getting to your destination’. There are some camps within Christianity who might define sin to be epidemic, as in that sin runs through all of humanity and that we all have the birthmark of sin within us no matter what we do or don’t do, we are all marred. Having said all this, I do believe we can make choices that are destructive towards our development and the development of the world and others. But as this guy and I were talking I suddenly realized something…
If we use a flower vase as an analogy of humanity; than either we are broken and not fixed. Or we are fixed and not broken. This allegory is in effect saying either through the death of Jesus, all of humanity has been fully restored from ‘sin’ (from a destructive way of life) or they haven’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t have the scar that we each carry, or that we will never make decisions that will hurt or marr those around us. What it does mean is that sin as an epidemic was never meant to be seen as an epidemic.
Jesus says it this way, now watch his word choice: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which WAS lost”… (Matthew 18:11). Note: There are scholarly disputes (and you might see this in some different bible versions; for example, this verse doesn’t show up in the New Living Translation but will in the KJV)). Through his own words, we can see that Jesus assumes that what he came to do will actually work. Or HAS already been put into motion by just being with us. That his death and resurrection, but not just that, his being present with humanity is enough, will bring about a new identity, not just for a few, but for all of mankind. That all will get to experience this ‘new creation’ that another biblical author calls this journey.
The Aramaic word for lost is Abedah. It means something that has been destroyed or is perishing.
The Son of Man wasn’t a special title for Jesus, in fact, it was a title for anyone. In Aramaic it means ‘man of the earth’, when rendered correctly, it means ‘I, anyone or someone’…it could mean one of these three. It was a term of humility. And so essentially Jesus is saying from a place of humbled reverence for the lost.
Now, if this verse is supposed to be there (which again is under strong scrutiny, but let’s assume it does belong there for this study)…the lost wouldn’t be a general term, it would refer to those who have forgotten what it means to be a child. Those that have lost their innocence and wonder of life.
Those who have let the attempts at status drive them in all they say and do. (Read the whole of the Chapter for the context). Some might take this out of context and mean this verse to pertain to those are not in the ‘Jesus Club’, but if we take this all into context, then the lost become a very specific group of people, and even in this instance, it might even include those who follow him who have seemed to drop the ball (See the first few verses of the Chapter).
(the hebrew word for ‘seek’ is baqash, which means ‘aim’ –) save in the hebrew means ‘to heal’
Jesus might say something like this now: I am here (or my aim is to) offer healing to those who have lost their innocence.
I exist to be a person who shows others what it means to rediscover who God has meant them to be in light of these children that surround them.
In light of the WAS phrase another rewording might sound like this: I have humbly arrived in the here and now to fully heal those whose innocence has been destroyed…and teach them to rediscover what it looks like to be innocent once again…
This is a very different understanding of what most of taken this verse to mean. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t come for our redemption, it just means in this verse here He was talking about something a bit different than what we might usually hear which is still good news and part of the full gospel of Jesus. Which is that he invites us to surrender our ideas and find our innocence and children are that reminder.