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October 25 Today’s Reading: Luke 19-20
“And He was Rich”
It is always profitable for our souls to read about the conversion of a sinner by God’s omnipotent grace. It is especially profitable to read and study the stories of God’s converting grace given to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. We should read them often and study them with care, asking God the Holy Spirit to teach us the wonders of His grace. When we read about the conversion of the Samaritan woman in John 4, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, and the conversion of Onesimus in the Book of Philemon, we find our hearts saying, “That is what the Lord has done for me.” Don’t we? Today we have read the story of Zacchaeus’ conversion by the Lord Jesus. He was saved by omnipotent grace, because the Lord Jesus came down here “to seek and to save that which was lost.” And our blessed Savior never changes. What He did for Zacchaeus, He still does for sinners today.
As we read this story, we should read it in its context. Look back to Luke 18. In verses 18-25 we read about the rich young ruler, who refused to bow to Christ. As he walked away from the Master, we read in verses 24-26: — “And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” In verse 26 the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Then, our Savior said in verse 27, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Beginning right there, He proceeds to demonstrate the fact that He is that God with whom alone salvation is possible. He and He alone is able to save unto the uttermost all who come to God by Him, for He is Himself God the Son, God who came to seek and to save that which was lost. In verse 30 He tells us that the salvation He brings is “in the world to come life everlasting.” In verses 31-33 He tells us how this salvation, this life everlasting comes to our poor souls by His death upon the cursed tree as the sinner’s Substitute. In verses 35-43, giving sight and salvation to the blind man as He approached Jericho, He shows us that the sure result of His finished work of redemption is the salvation of sinners by omnipotent grace.
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” — What solemn words! The Lord Jesus entered into Jericho, and passed through it. As He was approaching Jericho, He saved Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) and the bind man we read about in Luke 18. As He was going out of Jericho, He saved two blind men sitting by the wayside (Matthew 20:29-34). A short distance further out of Jericho, He saved Zacchaeus. But we read of no wonders of grace performed in Jericho. Rather, here we read, “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.” Back in the days of Joshua, hundreds of years before, the Lord Jesus found a precious jewel for His crown there in a harlot named Rahab. Indeed, He found many jewels for His crown there over the years (1 Kings 16:34). But now He passes through Jericho. It appears that there were none within the walls of that great city He had come to save. Now He finds jewels for His crown among the poor, the blind, the publicans, and sinners, who were the castaways of Jericho. Luke seems to be saying to us, “Never cease to adore and give thanks to God our Savior for His sovereign, distinguishing grace!” He who has mercy on whom He will have mercy, has not left us to ourselves! Let us rejoice and worship Him (Psalm 116:12-13, 17).
Zacchaeus’ conversion tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation is omnipotent and irresistible. None are too sinful, too base, too vile, or too far gone for Christ to save. His arm is not shortened that He cannot save. Oh, no! His mighty arm is omnipotent in the operations of His grace! None are beyond the reach of omnipotent mercy! Here is a notorious publican transformed into a saint. Here is a rich man made to pass through the needle’s eye into the kingdom of God. Here is a covetous man transformed instantaneously into a self-sacrificing philanthropist! Our all-glorious, ever-gracious Christ is able to save to the uttermost! Here is a Physician before whom none are incurable! Yes, “all things are possible with God;” and Jesus Christ is God our Savior! He still breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the captive free. He still makes the lame to walk again and causes the blind to see!
Salvation comes to chosen sinners because the purpose of God according to election is sure. Salvation came to Zacchaeus because Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham. He may or may not have been a Jew outwardly. We are not told. Many of the publicans were Jews. Others were Gentiles. But this publican was a child of promise (Galatians 4:28), one of Christ’s, an heir of promise, because he was numbered among Abraham’s spiritual seed (Galatians3:29). He was by nature a coarse, wicked man (Matthew 18:17). Like you and me, he was a sinner by birth, a sinner by nature, a sinner by choice, and a sinner by practice. But he was distinguished from all others in the crowd that day by God’s distinguishing grace and called, because God had from the beginning chosen him to salvation.
O my soul, roll these things over in your heart day by day. Never lose sight of them. The Son of God had His eye upon you from eternity, just as He had his eye upon Zacchaeus. You were chosen by Him in everlasting love (Ephesians 1:3-4). Your name was written in the Book of Life before the worlds were made (Revelation 13:8; Luke 10:20). You were one of those sheep given to the Good Shepherd by the Father from old eternity (John 10:27-29). And it is written, “The flocks shall pass again under the hands of him that telleth them, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 33:13). He said, “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezekiel 20:37). And so it came to pass!