God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).


Friday, May 20, 2022

Lessons from Zacchaeus and the Rich Young Ruler



 by Barbara Latta

Two wealthy men met Jesus, but their lives had different outcomes.

Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and the Rich Young Ruler (Mark10:17-22) both sought Jesus.

The Lord’s reputation preceded him. His teaching was like no other and spiritually hungry people flocked to hear the Messiah.

Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was too short to see over the tops of people’s heads. As a tax collector, he was an outcast. Perhaps he had tried to elbow his way to the front of the crowd, but people pushed him back because they wanted nothing to do with him. He ran ahead, climbed a tree, and hid among the branches.

He had no idea Jesus could see him. He only wanted to find out more about the Man who caused quite a stir among the population.

Jesus looked up amidst the crowd and singled the small fellow out and wanted to have dinner with him.

The people were aghast that this prophet would enter the house of a sinner. (Isn’t it amazing, they didn’t think they were sinners too?)

Because Jesus showed Zacchaeus love and acceptance, the sinner transformed into a believer. Jesus never asked Zacchaeus to give away anything, yet the heart change urged amends for his wrongdoing. Giving away money didn’t change him nor make him acceptable to God. His heart changed when he accepted the love of God.

Rich, Young Ruler

In contrast, the youth with the extravagant lifestyle came seeking the way to eternal life. His first response to Jesus was a recitation of the law he had kept from his childhood. He didn’t see himself as a sinner, yet he knew something was still missing in his life. Maybe there was one more law he missed. He sought performance.

Jesus told him to sell his possessions and follow Him. The youth went away sad because material wealth had such a grip on him.

Selling his possessions wouldn’t save him. Jesus just wanted to show this person the condition of his heart. Idolatry prevented him from receiving eternal life from the Father.

Zacchaeus willingly gave because his heart changed. When the love of God touched him, he immediately repented.


The ruler couldn’t part with his possessions because his heart remained hard. All indications reflect he didn’t think he needed to repent of anything. Zacchaeus acknowledged his mistreatment of people. The ruler just talked about how good he thought he was.

It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). Both these men were shown the goodness of God. But they didn’t respond in the same way. Jesus wasn’t trying to take anything away, He wanted to give life.

If the young ruler had been willing to part with his earthly possessions and follow Jesus it would be indicative of his heart change. He could let go of the idol that held his soul in exchange for submitting to the one who held the keys to eternal life. But he still sought a way to earn God’s love without realizing the Father’s heart had already been extended to him.

What Does it Mean to Believe?

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30), his searching question was asked in a different way from the one the ruler asked it. He wasn’t seeking performance; he sought the source of the power in the man behind bars. The guard was amazed when Paul and the other prisoners stayed put after the earthquake opened the prison. He knew it could only be God.

The answer is simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And this word believe means more than just believing Christ exists or that He is the Son of God. The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).

The word believe means commit to, be put in trust with.[i] This is what Zacchaeus did but what the rich young man wasn’t willing to do. He called Jesus Teacher. Zacchaeus called Him Lord.

These examples show us it isn’t what we do that saves us. Good deeds are a result of knowing the Lord but are not what changes us. We give and love because He first loved us.  

Believe or Performance?

Many times we may think like the young man did and use our performance as a way to appease God. We may not approach it the same way, but we start to use our busy-ness, ministry opportunities, how much we pray or read the Bible as steps to earn heavenly points. Even our giving can become a trophy if not done with the right motive.

We can’t earn eternal life as the young man found out. We can only accept the love of God and learn to live in His fullness.

Believing is a whole new way of living—as Zacchaeus found out.

What other insights do you see about the two rich men who sought Christ? Join the conversation.

TWEETABLES

To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ means more than acknowledging He exists. Believe means to commit and trust. (click to tweet)

We can’t earn eternal life. We can only accept the gift of God and learn to live in His fullness. (click to tweet)

 

 

21 comments:

  1. So many great lessons here Ms. Barb. I'll be thinking about this all day my friend. What stood out to me is how God knew what needed to be asked of each man. For Zacchaeus, a simple 'follow me.' For the rich young ruler, "you must open your hand before you can receive what I offer." Many of us want to live "close-fisted" and we wonder why we can't grab onto all that God has to offer. Lots to ponder today ma'am. I'm asking myself what some of my idols are.

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    1. Yes, God did know what each man needed because He knows our heart. He gave each one the invitation necessary to draw them to change, just like He does for us. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings!

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    2. Good point, Anonymous. Jesus knowing just what to ask each man beautifully illustrates the all-knowing, or omniscience, character of God. I love what you say here, Barbara - "We can’t earn eternal life as the young man found out. We can only accept the love of God and learn to live in His fullness." Why do some of us struggle so to accept such a gift?

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    3. Whoops - I didn't put in my creds in my above reply. Candyce

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    4. Hi Candyce, thanks for sharing. There isn't a reply button to your comment but I want to thank you here.

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  2. Believing is, indeed, a whole new way of living. Wonderful message, Barbara! God bless!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessings!

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  3. The way you compared and contrasted these two stories has created an inspiring and informative message. When I consider the young ruler's reaction, I ponder on what barriers keep me from being as close to our Lord as I should. It's certainly not wealth (since I don't have any), but what other things separate me from Jesus? Thank you for sharing this message to help us reflect on our relationship with Jesus.

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    1. You are right, Katherine. We don't have to accumulate wealth to have barriers between ourselves and the Lord. Anything we value more than Him can keep us apart. We can all spend time pondering anything we may idolize that prevents intimacy. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings!

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  4. You gave a thorough compare and contrast of these two men, Barbara. Along the way you gave me much to chew on. I like what Katherine said about considering the barriers in my life. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, Annie, Katherine shared some great insight about barriers we can allow. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings!

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  5. Barbara, I always pity the rich young man. Perhaps because I relate to him--it's so easy to fall into a pattern of performance. Your words encouraged me today.

    Blessings,
    Tammy

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    1. I know what you mean, Tammy. I have always wondered if maybe he changed later but it isn't recorded. It would be wonderful to know he came to know Christ as the giver of grace and not law. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

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  6. Such a good comparison. As always, I learn something new with each of your posts.

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  7. Yvonne Morgan5/26/22, 11:13 PM

    Great post Barbara. I love the story of Zacchaeus (maybe cause I’m short) and how he walked much taller after meeting Jesus. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Yvonne, I love your insight that Zacchaeus walked taller after he met Jesus. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

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  8. Such good insights into what made the difference between these 2 men!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kathy. Blessings!

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  9. I heard a guy give his testimony recently. He said that his wife had such faith that she became a sycamore tree that he wanted to climb to see more of Jesus. I want to be a place that people can peer out and see Jesus from my life.

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    1. Joanna, what a wonderful analogy. Thanks so much for sharing. May we all be sycamore trees that point others to Christ. Blessings!

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