Summary: Can a con man change? Is it possible for a rich man with ill gotten gains to enter heaven? Let’s look at Luke 19:1-10 and one such man’s repentance.
Can a con man change? Is it possible for a rich man with ill gotten gains to enter heaven? Let’s look at Luke 19:1-10 and one such man’s repentance.
Luke 19:1-4 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.
Zacchaeus had become “very rich” as a chief tax collector for Roman occupiers. It was dirty money in the eyes of the people. Jesus taught how hard a wealthy person would find entering the kingdom (Luke 18:24-25). Zacchaeus was short and despite the obvious embarrassment, he climbed a tree.
Luke 19:5-6 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.
Zacchaeus’ persistence was rewarded. Jesus wanted to be his guest today. Zacchaeus was immediately responsive and filled with joy. Jesus had kingdom plans that included this “notorious sinner.” Zacchaeus is genuinely receptive and ready to embrace the values of the kingdom of God. The bigger the sinner the more thankful.
Luke 19:7-10 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” 9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Zacchaeus was happy, the crowd grumbled, because he collaborated with Roman occupation. They could not see what Jesus saw. Zacchaeus responded to Jesus with the fruits of repentance within his heart, righting wrongs and giving to the poor. Jesus said Zacchaeus’ behavior was that of a true child of Abraham.
Zacchaeus means the righteous one. His name was a prophecy of his life as Jesus would make it. All our righteousness comes from God. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but Jesus had already seen him, and a rich man entered the kingdom of God. Jesus can make the impossible possible.
Zacchaeus repented of his greed and began giving. Do we grumble about Jesus’ grace to those who have wronged us? Is Zacchaeus welcome in our churches? Jesus came to call the lost. Do we shut the lost out of the church? A rescue came to Zacchaeus, from greed to giving.
It is hard for a rich con man to be saved but it is possible. Salvation has come to you and me. Jesus wants to be a guest in our homes today. Is He welcome?
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Habakkuk 1:1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision. 2 How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. 3 Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. 4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
2:1 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. 2 Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3 This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. 4 “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
Here ends the reading.
Habakkuk prophesied before the Exile, when the Babylonians were beginning to attack. Angry at God, he can’t understand why God would permit suffering. Is the Lord’s judgment perverted? Why is God silent? The Lord replies. The Chaldeans are carrying out God’s plan and Judah will one day be great again.