There was a man of little stature who could not press in the multitude. They were all waiting for Jesus to pass by the city of Jericho. So he ran and went up a tree to see Him.
When Jesus passed by, He saw Zacchaeus on the tree. Then He told him to go down for He would come to his house. He was surprised. How come He took notice of him who was one of the hated men during that time?
He went down in haste to lead Jesus and His disciples to his house. They went and left the people grumbling. They got mad to see Jesus taking time to be with this tax collector whom they called a sinner.
The people hated them that collect their taxes. That same feeling is still felt today. People still view the tax collectors as shrewd and corrupt.
Yet Jesus did not mind if Zacchaeus was like that. He knew that all men are sinners. (Romans 3:10, 23)
We do not know what Jesus told Zacchaeus when He went to his house. But we can infer from the response he made. Look Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold. (Luke 19:8)
Jesus presence made Zacchaeus aware of his sins. Though He did not give him an accusing look. But His words were gentle rebuke to him. His kindness touched him. It caused him to feel sorry for the sins he had done and had been doing.
Zacchaeus showed proof of coming into terms with God. He realized he needed God to save him, forgive him and cleanse him. He came to know that Jesus who was standing right there could do it for him.
But Zacchaeus would not only want God to forgive and save him. He also wanted to please Him. He knew he needed to return all things that he took unlawfully. And whatever the law had said about it, that he would do. He realized he must make good to his victims.
Zacchaeus knew that to feel sorry for his sins would not be enough to thank God for the grace He had shown him. He must correct his misdeeds. He must make amends. He must return what he had stolen. He must not let riches be the center of his life. He must reunite with the people who hated him or with them that he hated. He must live to please God. He must seek to help other people see what God has done for humanity. Just like what happened to him. And the list goes on.
Zacchaeus life tells us that to restore what was taken unjustly, or the relationships that were broken, matters to God. For him, the grace he had received from God should not be in vain.
1. Is there a thing or relationship that God asks you to restore? How will you do it?
2. Why does a person need to restore what he has taken from another as proof that he has truly repented? What good will it do?
Repentance is one thing. Restitution is another.