When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’ ” 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.”
As I was reading these verses, I was struck by the difference between the story of the rich young ruler in Chapter 18, and the story of Zacchaeus. The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked him what to do to gain eternal life, and Jesus told him. The young man went away sad because he had great wealth. Zacchaeus, so moved by the presence of the Lord, volunteers to give up his wealth to make his life right with God.
What is the difference? Zacchaeus knew he was a sinner, yet when the Lord came to him, he repented and desired to make things right. How do we handle it when God comes to us through His Word, or by someone’s counsel or instructions, to point out sin in our lives? Do we turn and walk away, or repent and seek forgiveness?