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Revisiting the story of the Lord Jesus and Zacchaeus

Williams attempted to respond to my post refuting his blatant distortion of Jesus’ visiting the home of as recorded in Luke 19:1-10: Here is what he says:

“Sam: I reject your interpretation of the passage. It is Zacchaeus’s expressed intention to repent and do reparations for his sin…

“‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’…which elicits Jesus’ response that ‘salvation has come to his house’.

“Jesus brings salvation through his preaching of the kingdom. Some people respond positively and this makes them true sons of Abraham.

“The New Living Translation brings out the meaning well:

“Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’”

“Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham.’

“As the great Christian NT scholar Rev Professor Raymond E. Brown comments ‘the story illustrates Luke’s attitude towards wealth: Zacchaeus is a rich man, but the salvation can come to his house because he gives half his goods to the poor.’” page 252, An Introduction to the New Testament (Anchor Bible Reference).

How does one even address such willful stubbornness and blindness to the truth of God? It is pretty obvious that Williams’ utter hatred of the true Jesus and his Gospel makes it impossible for him accept the truth that is so plainly evident even to a blatantly inconsistent unbeliever such as himself.

With that said, I press on with a response for the benefit of all the rest whom by the grace of the Lord Jesus have eyes to see and ears to hear.

To begin with, Williams is doing nothing more than attack straw man in order to avoid the massive amount of Scriptural evidence that I provided to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that according to Luke-Acts, salvation comes by turning to Christ in faith and receiving the redemption he accomplished on the cross of Calvary. See the original rebuttal for the details.

The reason why we say that Williams’ “response” is nothing more than a straw man is because NO ONE DENIES that repentance is an essential aspect of salvation! The real question is repentance from what/whom and to what/whom? After all, repentance simply means turning from something/someone to something/someone.

The answer was already given in the very rebuttal that Williams pretends to be refuting. Here it is again:

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that REPENTANCE and forgiveness of sins should be preached IN HIS NAME to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:44-47

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘REPENT, and be baptized every one of you IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:37-38

“The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And HIS NAME, BY FAITH IN HIS NAME, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. REPENT THEREFORE, AND TURN AGAIN, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” Acts 3:13-20

The message of Luke-Acts is crystal clear. A person must turn away from their sins and turn to Christ in faith in order to be saved.

Now is that what Zacchaeus did? Let’s see:

“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchae′us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree TO SEE HIM, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchae′us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste and came down, AND RECEIVED HIM JOYFULLY.” Luke 19:1-6

It is obvious from his actions, namely his climbing up a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus personally and then receiving him into his home with joy, that Zacchaeus was turning away from his sins by turning to Christ. His willingness to make restitution to everyone he had cheated was a demonstration of his genuinely repenting before the Lord Jesus, obviously because of his believing that Christ was the Savior who had come to save him:

“Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining round me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles—to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified BY FAITH IN ME.’ Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT AND TURN TO GOD AND PERFORM DEEDS WORTHY OF REPENTANCE.” Acts 26:12-20

This brings me to my next point. Luke-Acts are quite clear that part of Jesus’ mission included his searching for the lost in order to lead them to repentance:

“For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”” Luke 19:10

“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you IN TURNING EVERY ONE OF YOU FROM YOUR WICKEDNESS.” Acts 3:26

“God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, TO GIVE REPENTANCE to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31

Astonishingly, Jesus’ ability to grant repentance and turn people away from their wickedness is a function which Luke elsewhere ascribes to God!

“When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also GOD HAS GRANTED REPENTANCE unto life.’” Acts 11:18

Hence, Jesus does what God alone can do!

Thirdly, the reason why God accepts the repentance and faith of anyone who turns to Christ is because of what God’s Son did on the cross. It is Christ’s perfect righteousness and vicarious death that makes a person’s faith and repentance efficacious for salvation:

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given FOR YOU. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out FOR YOU is the new covenant IN MY BLOOD.’” Luke 22:19-20

To now sum up our response to Williams’ desperate tirade against the Lord Jesus. According to the explicit testimony of Luke-Acts, the Lord Jesus came to enable people like Zacchaeus to repent of their sins and turn to him in faith so that they could receive the gift of salvation. This salvation that Christ grants to all those who turn to him and believe on his name, is based on his vicarious death on the cross for the sins of all who put their trust in him, just as we find in the case of Zacchaeus.

As I often say, so much for William’s “response” and his fallacious appeal to Raymond E. Brown.

Lord Jesus willing, we will have more responses to Williams’ nonsense and shameless butchering of God’s Word in the not so distant future.

All Scriptural citations taken from the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Holy Bible.

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