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.”
– Luke 19:8
Zacchaeus was a sinner like any other. Yes, the cultural stigma of his day placed him—as a tax collector—higher up on the sinner ladder, but in reality he was a sinner like any other. In fact, I’m convinced—as I’ve studied the story of Zacchaeus many times—that we actually have Zacchaeus all wrong.
Yes, he was a tax collector and yes, he was rich. But that doesn’t mean that his riches were got by unrighteous means and ill-gotten gains. I think that Zacchaeus was seeking to do his job as a tax collector in the most honest and just way he could. The reason I think this is that Zacchaeus says to Jesus “I give half my goods to the poor” and “if I have taken anything unjustly, I restore it fourfold.” Notice he didn’t say, “I will from this day forward give half my goods to the poor.” Nor did he say, “I will from now on restore anything taken unjustly. Zacchaeus seems to say, “This is my pattern of life. I give half my goods, and if I’ve done anything wrong, I hold myself to a standard higher than the law requires on restitution.
Don’t get me wrong. Zacchaeus was still a sinner, just like any other sinner. But I don’t think he was what people supposed him to be.
Yes, I could be wrong in my interpretation. I’m perfectly fine with that prospect. But I like my interpretation for a very simple reason. There are a lot of people who I judge as being way worse than they probably are. Thankfully, for others, it’s not my place to be a judge.
Enduring Word Commentary with Pastor David Guzik
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Additional Daily Devotionals
My Utmost for His Highest | Oswald Chambers
Morning & Evening | Charles Spurgeon
Books on the Gospels
“Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” by Alfred Edersheim