Friday, April 1, 2011

The Day of Salvation

Many of us recall the story of Zacchaeus. When he heard that Jesus was going to pass through town, Zacchaeus wanted to see him. But he had a couple of problems. The first was that there was a whole crowd of people who also wanted to see Jesus, and the second was that he was short. He couldn't see over the crowd. But he didn't let those things stop him; he climbed up into a tree so that he would be able to see the one who it seemed that everyone was talking about. These few short verses give us the story of Zacchaeus from the Bible.

Luke 19:1-10 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

I would like to point out a few things from this story, and then draw some parallels. These verses tell us that Zacchaeus was a rich man. Just one chapter back in the Bible Jesus had been asked by a rich man how to inherit eternal life. Jesus, to test him, told him to keep the commandments, ...but the man claimed that he had always kept them. Then Jesus told him to sell his possessions, and this was too much for the man, so he went away sorrowful. At this point Jesus stated, "For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." And yet, here Jesus tells us that salvation had come to Zacchaeus! You may be wondering how that is possible, and you'd be in good company. Jesus own disciples wondered the same thing when he first made the statement about a rich man entering into the kingdom of God. They asked Jesus, "Who then can be saved?" The answer which Jesus gave to that question is borne out in the story of Zacchaeus. He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

This story also points out that Zacchaeus was a sinner. In fact, it was so well known to the townspeople that Zacchaeus was a sinner, that they were aghast that Jesus would actually be a guest in his house. It is pretty obvious that Zacchaeus himself understood that he was a sinner, because his reaction to this encounter with Jesus was to offer restitution for his wrongdoing. Compare that with the rich man from the previous chapter who seemed to believe that he had never broken God's commandments!

The last thing I would like to point out is that Zacchaeus repented. Repentance means to change your direction. Evidently Zacchaeus had previously hoarded his riches, because now he said he would give half his money to the poor. Obviously he had also gotten some of his riches by false accusation, probably in his role as a tax collector. Now he wanted to repay that ill gotten gain, and not only repay it, but repay it fourfold! But the rich man from the previous chapter? He had nothing to repent of because he didn't see himself as a sinner.

So, we have the stories of two rich men who each had an encounter with Jesus. The one, Zacchaeus, is in heaven today with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The other, so far as we know, never saw the kingdom of God, but only inherited eternal death.

There are at least three key things we can take away from this story to be true of Zacchaeus. Consider with me now whether these things are true of you.

Zacchaeus understood that he was a sinner; have you ever considered your sinfulness?

Zacchaeus met Jesus Christ, and as this passage tells us he "received him joyfully." Can you say the same?

Zacchaeus repented of his sins.

If these things, which are true of Zacchaeus, are not true of you, then it is not too late. It is possible that this day salvation could come to your house. As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 "now is the day of salvation"

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Excellent post, Lee.