Up a Tree
“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” (Luke 19:8-9).
Jesus insists on giving sinners a chance to repent. Jesus showed that “anyone” can be restored to the Father through the story of Zacchaeus when He worked the “saving transformation on a man who's situation seemed to be one of double jeopardy: he is both a chief tax collector and a man of wealth” (Nolland, 904).1
This was greatly misunderstood by the legalistic Pharisees who murmured about Jesus involvement with tax collectors, who were regarded as “extortionists and traitors” (Howell, 269). To address the murmuring, Zacchaeus “who had been inwardly transformed by his encounter with Jesus...” defended himself with “his spontaneous response to dispose of half his fortune toward meeting the needs of the poor and to make generous provision for putting right the injustices of his previous professional life,” (Nolland, 907), an offer above and beyond what the Law required. Sin could not destroy the lineage Zacchaeus had as a child of Abraham, just as sin can not destroy our standing as a child of God. Jesus did not “approve” of or commend any aspect of Zacchaeus lifestyle until after Zacchaeus repented, for “in this offer Jesus detected a repentant heart and pronounced Zacchaeus' salvation as a true son of Abraham, one justified like his forefather by faith” (Howell, 269). For, repentance is a requirement for forgiveness and access to the Kingdom of God as John the Baptist and Jesus preached prolifically.