In the days leading to Easter 2020, I focused my time in the Word on Luke’s account events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection. From the encounter with Zacchaeus, I’d like to share two thoughts on grace, highlighted by the two verses from Luke 19.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Lk. 19:5
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Lk. 19:8
From this familiar story we learn about grace that:
Grace finds us at our point of need.
“When Jesus reached the spot…” Even though Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and all that awaited him there, he came to ‘the spot.’ Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus (vs.3) and Jesus came to seek and to save Zacchaeus (vs.10). We are not told specifically why Zacchaeus needed to see Jesus, but we see him placing himself at a spot where Jesus could not miss him. Is this not what Heb. 4:16 encourages us to do? “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” When, in our neediness, we place ourselves before the throne of grace…we’re spot on! Even if you feel small, like Zacchaeus, or are facing big challenges─ like the crowd was to him… come confidently to the spot…the throne of grace. And Jesus will show up.
Grace transforms us to become generous
Do you notice that Zacchaeus calls Jesus ‘Lord’? That’s because he has been saved through faith (9) and recognizes Jesus as Master. The evidence of his repentance and transformation is his commitment to give, to the poor, half of his wealth and with the other half, make restitution by 400%! This was far, far more than the law required. Such is the transforming power of having Jesus in his heart and house. Did you notice that vs. 8 starts with the words ‘but Zacchaeus…’? Should we too not silence the muttering of others (and sometimes our own complaining against Jesus) and give generously out of grace.
So, whether we are wealthy, like Zacchaeus, or poor, like the widow (Lk. 20:1-4) or somewhere in between, may our generous giving flow from the experience of transforming grace.
To the glory of God and the advance of the gospel.