Luke 19:1-10: The Salvation of Zacchaeus
Jericho will always be famous for 3 unlikely converts. Firstly, there is the conversion of the prostitute Rahab. At the time of the Exodus she had heard about God rescuing His people from Egypt and giving them victory wherever they went. When the two spies came into Jericho she hid them, saving their lives. Her faith was demonstrated in her brave actions to save the spies. The second we looked at last week, the salvation of an apparently sinful blind man Bartimaeus. We saw someone who would be suspected of great sin seeing Jesus true identity when others did not, we witnessed his determination to be healed by the Son of David, and how he followed Him. Our third unlikely convert is Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector.
We have in Zacchaeus a wonderful picture of the conversion of the quintessential sinner. Where Bartimaeus foregrounded faith, Zacchaeus shows us that true conversion includes repentance as well as faith. One of the major concerns to the Jews when they encountered the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith was the issue of holiness. If we say that we are not saved by works and that forgiveness is free that will be a teaching that encourages sin and holiness which is something that every person who loves God should strive for will not be properly motivated. There was a deep suspicion of salvation by grace through faith, especially when you see outcasts and lifestyle sinners suddenly let off the hook and fully forgiven. There is no trial, no window period where they have to prove themselves, upon believing they are fully forgiven. Luke, who is very good as stressing repentance in Luke and Acts, is the only gospel that includes the story of Zacchaeus. His conversion illustrates the power of God to do the impossible and save a rich man; but it also illustrates the power of God in producing the fruits of repentance.
As we move through this familiar story we will look at it in three parts, firstly, we will look at the seeker Zacchaeus; then the Savior, then the salvation.