Luke 19:1-10: Now Zacchaus was a very ‘wealthy’ man, and a very ‘wealthy’ man was he!
Passing through a place on a journey to somewhere else may seem like one of life’s little incidentals (1,2), but on any ordinary day, among the mundane details, there may be someone ‘Jesus in you’ wants to meet. Watch out today for encounters God will write into your schedule. You didn’t enter them into your diary, but an unseen Hand did.
For all his faults, Zacchaeus was a ‘seeker’ and he put some effort (and creativity) into seeking Jesus (3,4). However, although it seemed as though Zac was seeking the Lord, the truth was the other way round (9, 10; see also chapter 15; Ezekiel 34:16). From our side of things, we think that we choose Christ. There is, of course, a very real sense in which we do. But the deeper truth, which we eventually discover, is that He was seeking us all along. I walked passed two American girls in a corridor of a Bible Institute many years ago. I was at an ‘Operation Mobilisation’ training conference in Leuven, Belgium. Young people from all across the world were being prepared for a month’s mission in the south of France. I heard one of these young women say to the other something like this, ‘Those French girls really excite me because they remind me of what we were like before Christ sought us.’
‘…before Christ sought us.’ What a lovely expression.
What was Zacchaeus like before Christ sought him? Well, ‘he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy’ (2b). Jewish Tax collectors were hated because they were seen as collaborators with Rome. The Romans gave the job to the man who paid the most for it, and most got rich by ripping off their clients. They charged more than was required and kept everything they didn’t have to give to the Romans for themselves. So they were cheats and thieves. Already, maybe,there was evidence of a change of heart towards his possessions in Zacchaeus when he welcomed Jesus into his home? (6). His giving away and making restitution did not save him (8), but it was compelling evidence that salvation had ‘come’ to his house (9). Saved people give evidence of salvation in numerous ways, including in their giving (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
In his outstanding book, ‘The spirit of the disciplines’, Dallas Willard writes, ‘The idealisation of poverty is one of the most dangerous illusions in the contemporary world. Stewardship – which requires possessions and includes giving – is the true spiritual discipline in relation to wealth…Condemnation and guilt over mere possession has no part in Scriptural faith and is, in the end, only a barrier to the right use of the riches of the earth.’ (P.194). So it is not HAVING that is the issue, but USING. From the beginning of his life of discipleship, Zacchaeus recognised the need to now use his wealth responsibly, and make up for his past crimes.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for what you have blessed me with. I need not be ashamed of it, but I do pray you will help me to use it all as a saved person should.