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 anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Luke 19:8
The story of Zacchaeus is one of the most shocking stories in the New Testament, because it leads us to understand the value of recognizing and correcting the misconceptions that led us to live in open resistance to God’s Will.
It is not easy to see and understand that what we are doing, and what we are accustomed to, is outside God’s Will. In fact, even when it comes to correcting the conduct of others it is easy to clearly see their wrongdoings, but when it comes to oneself there is always a justification for making us appear to others that we are not making any mistakes, even when the faults are evident.
The clear case is the case of David when he incurred in the action of taking Bath-sheba by wife, and the eventual exposure to the death of her husband by David’s instructions. There was a need for the prophet Nathan to present a hypothetical case for him to understand the gravity of his sin,
And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 2 Samuel 12:7-9
Therefore, Zacchaeus’ story is a model of teaching, because Zacchaeus’ decision is not the result of someone’s confrontation, not even Jesus himself, for the concepts of public life under which he had lived until then.
The Gospels describe many accounts of similar cases, of Jesus dining and posing in the homes of publicans, and even Pharisees, and never before had one of them made a similar decision.
What drove Zacchaeus to act differently?
Two answers arise from this question, the first of them we find in the confrontation with David on behalf of God by the prophet Nathan: Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight?
Giving the prominence value that corresponds to the Word of God places us in the right position before His Will and allows us to see where we are going wrong. It is not that the Word of God is an alternative to which we can turn at any given time. The Word is the only spiritual strength that can bring us back to life and free us from our delusions,
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Zacchaeus valued every word, every expression, every teaching of Jesus during that night, from the very moment he met him,
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. 6And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. Luke 19:5-6
That prominent value for the Word of Jesus led Zacchaeus to understand the perversity of the concepts of life that had governed his actions. The prominence of Jesus’ Word led Zacchaeus to be reconciled to God,
… the half of my goods I give to the poor …
Compare with the instruction of the prophet Micah,
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
Zacchaeus’ action of giving half of his goods to the poor was attributed to him as an act of perfection, according to Jesus’ declaration to the rich young man,
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Mathew 19:21
The restoration that a person can achieve for himself and for his house depends on the prominent value that he or she gives to the Word of God; but not the liturgical value or the symbolic value, but the value of doing it because He said it.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: Mathew 7:24
We find a similar case at the time of the apostle Peter’s conversion to faith,
And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake… 8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. Luke 5:5-8
He who does not do it, does not value the Word of God and deceives himself,
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22
Having little regard for the Word of God leads us to turn away from God and to live in open rebellion against Him.
There is a second value in Zacchaeus that allowed him to place himself in the corresponding position of pleasantness before God; it was the decision of Zacchaeus to compensate the damages of those whom he had defrauded,
… and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold…
Zacchaeus understood that in order for man and woman to live free from persecution by the kingdom of darkness it is necessary that they release all debt of the flesh,
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. Romans 8:12
The problem of the “failures” that many believers suffer constantly in their lives of faith is due to debts of the flesh that they have not yet released. Zacchaeus handed over the ill-gotten money as a tax collector, thereby releasing the legal right that darkness could claim over his property.
Zacchaeus’ decision earned him the seal of approval and blessing from Jesus,
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:9
Zacchaeus attracted for his generation the blessing of salvation, and he was included in the family of Abraham.
I constantly meet people who see in their situations an impossible case for God. Cases of poverty, of scarcity, of lack of wisdom to act; cases where many see God as unreachable.
These are quite similar cases to Zacchaeus, where in order to “see” Jesus and reach Him a greater effort is needed. They are the stories of many of those who live in our cities.
The solution is simple, it is not complicated: prominent value of the Word, to do, not to contemplate it. In the religious models of many, they believe that to value the Word is to have the Bible open in a psalm or in a particular section on the night table, which is an act of ominousness. God calls us to do the Word, not just recite it.
Second, to let go of the debts of the flesh: to repay damages, to forgive the past, to dispose of ill-gotten objects, even properties obtained in illicit ways. Get rid of everything that represented the salary of iniquity and arrogance. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God by bringing with us the works of the flesh,
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 1st. Corinthians 15:50
All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.
Can we do something for you?
Pastor Pedro Montoya