Read this:

Luke 18:18 A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.


And he said, "All these things I have kept from {my} youth."

When Jesus heard {this,} He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.

And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

"For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

They who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?"

But He said, "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God."

Now read this:

Luke 19:2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.

Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.

So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."

And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.

When they saw it, they all {began} to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."

And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

How often have we heard, or read the first story of the rich young man, and went away shaking our heads, pitying the wealthy, who seemingly have their reward now? How often have we clicked our tongues at them, judging them, and supposing that few, if any, will enter the Kingdom of God, exactly because we see that they worship their money more than God?

And how easy it is for us to believe that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. Somehow, we find justification in this, comfort even.

Be prepared to be uncomfortable, because the story of Zaccheus, I believe, is in direct response to the words of Christ, which were, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God”.

I find it interesting, and a little sad, that I have never heard these two stories preached side by side, the way they were meant to be preached. On the one hand, we have an example of a rich young man who was left to his own effort and decision, a man who was told exactly the “method” to gain salvation, and refused. We should pity such a man, shouldn’t we?

Then along comes Zaccheus, not only a wealthy man, but a man whose pedigree was much lower than the rich young ruler’s. Zaccheus was not just a tax collector, he was a chief tax collector. He was considered to be amongst the lowliest dregs of Jewish society, even lower than a prostitute, if that were possible.

One story shows us a rich young man, righteous in his own eyes, having kept the “commandments” since his youth. Poor chap, he never knew what hit him, when Jesus suggested that the only way he could be saved was to give away all he owned, and come follow Him. He was a pretty good guy, honoring his parents, never committing adultery, not stealing, and not lying. Surely this man had earned salvation, hadn’t he? Pretty good people get to heaven, don’t they?

Satan probably thinks he’s a pretty good person, too. Not perfect, but pretty good.

Then there is wily old Zaccheus, clambering up a tree. He was not about to let his stature, both physical and spiritual, keep him from seeing the Lord. He was rich, just like the young ruler. But he was a sinner!

Surely, if it was impossible for the rich young, pretty good guy to enter the Kingdom, Zaccheus was to fry in hell, wasn’t he? What possible hope for redemption was there in Zaccheus? Absolutely none. Jesus must have lied, because Zaccheus could not have been redeemed, as he was literally the camel trying to pass through the eye of a needle.

Side by side, we have these stories, not hardly even a chapter apart in the Gospel of Luke. Think this is just a coincidence? I don’t. In fact, I believe these two events occured on the very same day.

Note the turmoil in the crowd who heard the conversation between Jesus and the young ruler. Note Peter’s words. Zaccheus is Jesus’ answer to all these questions.

In Zaccheus, we have possibly the best, and worst example of who can be saved. And we have a direct answer to the question of the rich. Jesus told us how impossible it is for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom, there is now no doubt that it is impossible, because we all know camels don’t pass through the eyes of needles. Yet there is Zaccheus, turning our doctrine upside down.

Zaccheus probably broke every single one of the commandments Jesus told the young ruler to keep. But one thing he found in Jesus was love, and a God who was willing to bless even the very evil. The moment Jesus told Zaccheus that He must stay at his house, Zaccheus received Him with joy. And in response to this joy, Zaccheus did exactly what the righteous, rich young ruler could not do. He counted his worldly possessions as something to be given away, all because salvation came to his house, before he had given away a penny.
”Today salvation has come to this house”.

I believe the story of the rich young ruler and Zaccheus belong side by side, and I believe that when read and studied side by side, we see a miracle occurring, an answer to the fear, and bewilderment of all who heard, or have read the story of the rich young ruler, and went away judging and pitying him. Zaccheus did nothing to earn his salvation, not even keep the commandments. All he did was climb a tree to try and see Jesus. That day, salvation came to his house, and His name was Jesus.

Zaccheus can tell you all about it when you see him in heaven. He is one miracle of God that isn’t shown in man’s lists of Jesus' miracles.

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