This is what God gave me today in His word:
And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)
Now, it’s worth noting two things here: first, that Jesus declaring that Zacchaeus’ household was saved wasn’t because of his giving to the poor and returning what he had stolen. Also, Jesus isn’t talking about Zacchaeus being a physical descendant of Abraham, rather, Jesus was speaking Spiritually. We can see these two things by the following:
First of all, we know for a fact that someone cannot be saved simply by giving to the poor and returning stolen goods. No matter how you look at it, this remains true. So then, with that in mind, we can see from the previous couple of verses (namely verses 1-6) that Zacchaeus saw Jesus, rejoiced in Jesus’ company, then gave to the poor etc., and after all that was when his household was pronounced saved. In other words, we see the process of salvation here: first Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus; pretty much everyone who begins to want to become a Christian wants to see Jesus the word. Next, He rejoiced in Jesus’ company. Likewise, when someone finds Jesus, they too often rejoice. Finally, we see Zacchaeus evidence his desire to be made right by what he does; give to the poor, and return what he had stolen plus interest.
Also, we see that Jesus wasn’t talking about Zacchaeus’ physical relation to Abraham as being the cause of his salvation. Rather, Jesus is saying that Zacchaeus has now become a Spiritual child of Abraham; a Spiritual “Jew.” As Paul puts it in his epistle to the Galatians:
7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:7-9)
Jesus is saying that Zacchaeus’ being a descendant of Abraham is evidence of his household’s salvation. Now before Jesus had come, this may have applied in the physical sense, because back then the Jew’s were still the chosen people of God. However, Jesus made it so that now there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile; he made it so that being a physical descendant of Abraham no longer meant you were somehow “qualified” for salvation. Rather, He changed it so that everyone (including you and me) can become Spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham, by having faith that Jesus came, died, and rose again.
With all that being said, there is actually a third thing that needs to be noted, and that is Jesus’ love and kindness. More than that even: His love, His kindness, His grace and mercy; all these are on display here. That Jesus would bring a vile tax collector (who were known for taking more “tax” than was actually required) to Himself, and save even his household, is simply amazing. Not only that, but that He would do the same for us today is even more amazing.-He gave up His very life to save us. Our response should be, therefore, to do what this tax collector did, and accept Jesus into our homes, to love Him, to rejoice in His presence, and to repent.
You are Loved!