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
Zack received the invitation to follow Jesus from Jesus Himself. “I must abide at thy house,” Jesus told him. The church could learn quite a bit from Jesus right there. The invitation I received was, “ask Jesus into your heart.” I did that, but nothing changed at my house. I kept all of my pet sins and the biggest idols in my heart remained.
Unlike me, Zack understood that if Jesus was coming to his house, the main idol of his heart had to go. Zack’s main idol was money. He loved it. He loved it so much he became a tax collector. Romans loved to turn Israelites into tax collectors. Some of the Israelites didn’t mind being hated by their fellow countrymen if it meant they could have a lavish lifestyle. Up until this moment in his life, Zack was one of these that didn’t mind.
The crowd was disgusted with Jesus for going to Zack’s house. “He has gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner,” they said, as if they avoided that status somehow. Today’s crowd of church people still seem to forget that “sinner” is everybody’s default setting. Here is a man letting Jesus into his house, and the crowd can only say negative things about the whole situation.
Here is the part I want to point out that sure blessed me today. Zack did not make a plea to those people saying bad things against him. He appealed directly to Jesus. “You are now the Lord of my life! Money has been dethroned! I give half of my money away right now! I will find the ones I have cheated and pay them back four times what I took! My heart is changed because of You, Jesus!” Zack appeals to nobody but the King Himself. I like that.
A similar thing happened to me after salvation. I told a guy of my fairly new faith in Jesus. He did as the crowd did to Zack and pointed out my sins. Unfortunately, unlike Zack, I wasn’t willing to make the hard changes in my life that would cost me the lifestyle that I loved. I did not argue with my friend. I couldn’t, he was right. However, I did as Zack did and made my appeal to Jesus, “Lord, help me follow you for real. Change my heart. Help me dethrone these sinful things that I love.”
One by one, little by little, He did and is still doing just what I asked Him to do 20 years ago. Sometimes I still worry what people think of me. I’m going to let Zack teach me today exactly what I should do when I start listening to murmurs in the crowd. I will make my appeal directly to God. I will make an honest assessment, and if what they are saying is true, I will ask God to change me. If what they are saying is untrue, I will do as Zack did and say, “Look how you’ve changed my heart Lord!”
Ah, there is no one like you, Lord.