Posted by: mattcolvin | November 24, 2011

Luke 19:1-10 Repentance and Restoration

Friday of the 22nd week after Trinity: Luke 19:1-10.

8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “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.”

The repentance of Zacchaeus appears to have been prompted largely or even solely by Jesus’ self-invitation to dine at Zacchaeus’ house: on hearing that the Messiah was going to be in his home, Zacchaeus realizes the need to put himself right with God and his fellow Jews. This is not merely a change of attitude. It also involves action, “fruit worthy of repentance.” The sequence is instructive: Jesus announces an intention to dine with him first, and then Zacchaeus repents.

Note also that the crowd says that Jesus “has gone to be a guest (εἰσῆλθεν καταλῦσαι) with a man who is a sinner (ἁμαρτωλός).” As usual, this word “sinner” does not mean “a human being who sins”, but rather, someone whose continued behavior constitutes an obstacle to the redemption of Israel.

9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus’ declaration about Zacchaeus is in covenant-membership terms. Zacchaeus is a “son of Abraham”, that is, a covenant member. He was “lost”, excluded from good standing in that covenant. This is the same as what is meant by the crowd when they designate him as “a man who is a sinner.” But Jesus has rescued him and restored him to right standing. This restoration is “salvation.”


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