Summary: See what Zacchaeus teaches us about giving, especially as a response to repentance and salvation.
One of the best evidences of genuine salvation is generosity. That¡¦s right ¡V when God enters a life, giving becomes a way of life.
Would you say that with me as I show it behind me on the screen?
When God enters a life, giving becomes a way of life.
Unfortunately, too many people are like the businessman who, after being away on business, thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift. ¡§How about some perfume?¡¨ he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50.00. ¡§That¡¦s a bit much,¡¨ he said, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00. ¡§That¡¦s still quite a bit,¡¨ he complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle. ¡§You know,¡¨ he said, ¡§What I mean is that I¡¦d like to see something really cheap.¡¨ At that point the clerk handed him a mirror!
Fortunately, that was not how Zacchaeus showed gratefulness when God changed his life. Instead, he became very generous when God saved him. Yes, the little man who stole became the big man who gave once he met Jesus.
Open your Bible to Luke 19 and let¡¦s see the change that took place in this man¡¦s life as a result of an encounter with Christ, and gain further insight into the simple principle we¡¦ve already stated.
As you are turning there, I want to paint the backdrop a bit by reminding you that much of the material in these two chapters ¡V our passage for this week¡¦s message and small groups ¡V deals with giving. For instance¡K
...18:18-22 is about a man who couldn¡¦t give anything away.
...18:23-30 is about disciples who had already given everything away.
...18:31-35 is about Jesus who just about to give his life away.
So as we come to Zacchaeus, it is not surprising that giving is an integral part of this text. Follow with me as we read.
...V. 2 says his ¡§name was Zacchaeus¡¨ which literally means ¡§righteous one.¡¨ However, that was a far cry from reality when you look at¡K
...V. 2 ¡V he was a ¡§chief tax collector.¡¨ Not just a rookie or a low-level employee¡Ka chief! So his status was far from righteous¡Khe was the scum of society. In fact, the text indicates most folks agreed with this as they considered him a ¡§sinner,¡¨ for this is what they were ¡§muttering.¡¨(v. 7)
...His curiosity is intriguing ¡V ¡§he wanted to see Jesus¡¨ (v. 3). So he devises a creative way to get a wide-angle view of the Christ: Climb a tree! I have to admit that for a chief tax collector to climb a tree must have been a strange sight, but it clues us in on just how deep his curiosity was. To what measure would you go to see Jesus, to get a glimpse of the Savior?
...V. 5 contains a key word ¡V ¡§must.¡¨ The use of this word indicates textually an imperative situation, which is why I believe it is at this point that Christ is saying, in effect, ¡§Today is the day you have to believe. So get down here!¡¨ And what did Zac say?
...V. 6 indicates he ¡§welcomed him gladly,¡¨ which I believe is the point at which Zacchaeus believed. Zac¡¦s response is a response to Christ¡¦s initiative, which is exactly what happens in salvation scenarios. Christ reaches out to us, and we respond.
...And how to Zac show he had been changed? He willingly offered to give half to the poor (a non-required gesture) and also to pay back what he owed, in the highest amount/way he could. Let me explain. Based on OT Law (Lev. 6 and Ex. 22), if a thief voluntarily confessed his sin, he had to restore what he took, add 1/5 to it, and bring a trespass offering to the Lord. If he was caught with the goods, he had to repay double. If he could not restore what he stole, he had to repay four-fold. Isn’t it awesome how Zacchaeus went to the highest and most costly level of repentance. WOW! He was willing to do whatever was necessary to show he was truly changed.
...And that is exactly what he was doing: showing the fruits of his repentance.
By the way, 19:9 doesn¡¦t teach that he was saved because he gave, but rather it teaches that giving was proof positive he had been changed (¡§Today salvation has come to this house¡K¡¨). And by the way, the statement about ¡§salvation coming to his house¡¨ is literally true, for Jesus had come to his house. And Jesus is salvation. What a awesome thought ¡V when Jesus shows up, salvation is here! Yes, this rich man had gotten through the eye of the needle ¡V but only because of Jesus! And that¡¦s exactly why he came ¡V to seek and save lost people who desperately need salvation ¡V Jesus!