Thursday, August 14, 2014
August 14 – An unlikely candidate
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:9 NET)
Jesus spoke these words to one of the most unlikely people. In fact, when Jesus invited Himself to this man’s house, the crowd complained, asking how He could sit down and eat a meal with such a sinful, corrupt man. But throughout the Bible, God picks some of the most unpredictable people to do His greatest work. He chose Moses, a stutterer, to go and speak to the leader of the world at the time. He chose David, an inexperienced boy of around fourteen, to fight a trained and seasoned warrior-giant, a man that no one else in the army of Israel had the courage to fight. He chose an eighty-nine year old woman, whose body was as good as dead, to give birth to a boy that would become the heir to God’s promises to Abraham. And this is only three examples… there are so many more scattered throughout the Bible.
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, which means he was a traitor to his people, had turned his back on God and the Temple, and was a thief. Most people would have turned up their noses at him, and refused to be his friend, but Jesus saw that he had climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of Him, and so He stopped to invite Himself for lunch at his house. Immediately we see why Jesus picked him out of the crowd, because he quickly accepted the invitation and invited a lot of other needy people to the join them (his tax collecting colleagues). Then, in the middle of the meal Zacchaeus stood up in front of everyone and declared that he would immediately give half of his possessions to the poor, and that he would pay back anyone he had defrauded, four times the amount they had lost. According to the Law of Moses he only needed to give back what he had taken with 20% added to it, but Zacchaeus went much further than that.
This was a litmus test moment. From that moment on Zacchaeus’ life must have taken a radical turn for the better. Jesus saw such a transformation in his inner being as he stood up and made that public declaration, that He made a bold declaration Himself, that he and his family were saved. Even before his family showed any signs of wanting to change, Jesus knew that they would. What their father and husband had just done was so earthshaking that it was guaranteed to effect his entire home.
By speaking that one sentence Zacchaeus had made a 180 degree change in his life. A man who had once loved money and done anything to get it, and who had become rich, was ready to lose it all in exchange for salvation. During Jesus’ dinner conversation he must have realized that he was a poor man and needed to become rich, spiritually rich. And because he gave up his greatest love and was replacing it with God, Jesus knew that he was saved, and would eventually save his entire family.
This is what happens when we experience the new birth. Whatever used to be number one in our lives is demoted to some other place, and God is put in first place. Radical changes like this are hard, but they bring amazing results. No one I’ve met who has truly been born of God has ever regretted giving up their old life and treasures in exchange for salvation and becoming a child of God.