Yesterday I talked about real wealth. Real wealth has nothing to do with material things. Real wealth is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This was the offer made to a rich young ruler. “Follow me,” Jesus told him. We are then informed that the man left Jesus full of sorrow because the man had many possessions. Therefore, when we talk about God blessing us, when we go to Him in prayer for blessing, we sell Himself short to ask primarily for material things. We instead should earnestly desire that which is of the greatest value: God Himself. How often we do not.
Zacchaeus made no much mistake. When Jesus told Zacchaeus that He would stay at the tax collector’s house, Zacchaeus made sure nothing would get in the way. Folks grumbled that Zacchaeus was a sinner. In other words, he wasn’t worthy of receiving Jesus. Zacchaeus’ response is immediate and surprising:
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.” – Luke 19:8, ESV
Tax collecting was a lucrative business. Zacchaeus was not an ordinary tax collector for the Bible tells us he was a chief tax collector. We don’t have another occurrence in the Bible to compare that to, but we can safely conclude that Zacchaeus made a lot from his job, likely even more than a regular tax collector. Tax collectors worked with the Romans. A tax collector received the ability to be a tax collector by paying the Romans. And once Rome’s taxes were colleced, a tax collector could collect anything else, backed by the arm of Roman Law. Needless to say, they were hated by other Jews. The Jewish people rightly saw them as vultures who preyed on their own people.
Zacchaeus knew all that. He also knew that Jesus knew. The money was a big obstacle. Zacchaeus’ wealth could keep him from a relationship with Jesus. Faced with that, he immediately was willing to give it up. We’re not talking a little money, either. Half of that wealth was promised to the poor. As to the rest, if anyone had been cheated by Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus wasn’t just willing to repay, he would repay four times! If in fact Zacchaeus had cheated folks, he was looking at financial ruin. That didn’t matter. Jesus did.
Zacchaeus had wealth. He was a rich man. But wealth didn’t have the answers Zacchaeus was looking for. Money and stuff couldn’t fill the void Zacchaeus had. Only Jesus could. Faced with maintaining his wealth or embracing Jesus, Zacchaeus immediately relinquished all that material gain. He did so boldly. He wasn’t going to be a miser. He wasn’t going to let Jesus get away.
Does that describe your relationship with the Savior? Are you willing to give up everything so Jesus won’t get away? Would you do so boldly, without a second thought, like Zacchaeus did? If we want real wealth, this is the only way to get it. Jesus has to become more than a priority. He has to become the priority. Unlike the rich young man, Zacchaeus understood this and eagerly grasped after it. Let us be the same way. Let us pray for and desire real wealth, our relationship with Jesus, and seek real blessing, spiritual things over material ones. Let us be like Zacchaeus. Let us be eager to walk with the Son of God.