Dr. Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, delivered the OBU chapel address Oct. 13 in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium.
Allen taught from Luke 19:1-10, highlighting the interaction between Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector at Jericho, and Jesus.
He began the message by sharing how he came to faith in Christ at age 18. Despite his upbringing in a Christian home, as well as his plans to attend a Christian college, he had resolved in his heart and mind that he was going to make a clean break from his parental influence concerning faith and morality once he moved to college. However, upon making that decision, he experienced a profound sense of conviction and emptiness. This led to his realization that “There has to be something more for me in life.” The conviction he experienced led him to accept Jesus as savior.
According to Allen, Zacchaeus was in a similar situation before he was saved.
“He had all the world had to offer but was empty,” Allen said. “He went looking for something, he went looking for the message preached by this man Jesus. When he encountered Christ, his life was altogether transformed.”
Allen then outlined the story of Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus by climbing a tree. He recalled how Jesus called him down from the tree and told Zacchaeus that he would be coming to his house that day.
“Notice the type of sinner Jesus sought. Jesus is presented to us in these verses as a seeking savior,” Allen said. He then asked the students, “Has Jesus ever sought you?”
“Jesus is seeking Zacchaeus not because he’s close to being a Christian, but because he’s so far away,” Allen said. “Jesus is seeking Zacchaeus because he set his love in the sinner.”
Allen then described the inverted topography of the kingdom of God, with the morally bankrupt being those that Jesus most often sets his love upon. He then challenged the audience members to consider their own spiritual state and their own commitment, or lack thereof, to Jesus.
“You’re at a great, faithful, Christian, Baptist institution. You came here from a great, faithful, Christian, perhaps Baptist family. You’re from a great, Christian, evangelical church and externally everything looks right and spiritually buttoned-up. But internally, you have engaged in activity over the years that finds you this morning distanced from God.”
Allen then gave attendees a truth to hold onto in hope.
“If you will come to Christ in repentance, there is no sin too great that he is not eager to forgive. There is no sinner too distant but that he is eager to find and to embrace. That is our loving Lord.”
According to Allen, that is also what Zacchaeus experienced. Allen then quoted Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
“That is our seeking savior,” he said.
Before closing with prayer, Allen gave one last word to the students who don’t know the Lord.
“This savior is not only worth your commitment,” Allen said. “This savior is willing and eager to receive your commitment.”
Prior to the sermon and worship time, chapel attendees welcomed a surprise guest to the stage, United States Senator James Lankford. He was joined by Dr. Matthew Kearns, director of student ministry. Lankford spoke briefly about following God’s calling and encouraged students to follow the Lord rather than anyone or anything else. Lankford then prayed for the students before the worship team took the stage ahead of Allen’s message.
Allen was elected as the fifth president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2012. Since his arrival, the seminary has become one of the largest and fastest growing seminaries in North America. In addition to his duties as president, Allen serves in the classroom as associate professor for preaching and pastoral ministry. Off campus, he serves the church through his preaching and writing ministries as well. He is the author of several books including “The SBC and the 21st Century,” “Discerning Your Call to Ministry,” “Being a Christian” and “Letters to My Students.” He regularly posts essays online and hosts a weekly podcast, “Preaching and Preachers,” both of which may be found on his website. Before coming to Midwestern, he served as a pastor and as a senior administrator at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
OBU has partnered with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, along with several others, to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to earn up to 27 hours advanced standing toward their MDiv while completing their bachelor's degrees on Bison Hill. Learn more about the BA to MDiv.