Friday, January 17, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 28: True Repentance

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 28, January 17, 2014
Readings: Psalm 27, Genesis 25:19-34, 2 Chronicles 1, Luke 18:31-43, Luke 19:1-27

Those of us who speak the english language tend to apologize a lot. We even make fun of the Canadians for how often and how they say it. (Soory guys.) We say it so much that I think it has lost a lot of it's potency. It's just a thing we say - a pass to hopefully placate someone. But the root of the word points to something more important than just a passing phrase - it comes from the Old English sarig - "to be depressed, grieved, full of sorrow."

That sounds like more than a passing phrase. That sounds like it's got some heart attached to it. It reminds me of a question my wife used to ask (that I really didn't care for!) when we first got married. Whenever I would say sorry (which was often) she said "Okay, but why? What are you sorry for?" And then I'd have to work it out. I couldn't just apologize because I saw sadness in her countenance. I had to ask myself what I had done that caused her pain. And then, when I realized what I had done, I felt true sorrow. Because I knew the depth of my sin.

Jesus calls a now (in)famous individual to do the same. Let's look in:

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he is also a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:1-10)

I love this story, even though I have to sing it to my kids in an annoying sing-song voice. I always wonder, what was Zacchaeus thinking when he climbed the tree? When Jesus invited himself over? I bet he had no idea what would come of his attempt to get a look at Jesus. Without saying anything, Jesus' actions cause Zacchaeus to look at himself, at his life, and ask why this "good teacher" would want to come to his house. Zacchaeus is the outcast of outcasts. If it was legal, I'm sure the people witnessing this would have murdered Zacchaeus. That's how much they hated him. But Jesus not only spoke to him, he wanted to share a meal!

And this action, this crossing the divide between "sinner" and "saint" is what threw Zacchaeus into a tailspin. Jesus' actions demonstrated love, acceptance and a willingness to forgive. Jesus didn't give Zacchaeus a pass on his sins. Jesus didn't say it was "okay" for Zacchaeus to swindle, cheat and terrorize his fellow Jews. No. What he did, was show Zacchaeus that true acceptance, love and forgiveness could be found. The crowd shows what Zacchaeus would have faced if he had said "I'm sorry" - they wouldn't have cared. He would still be an outcast. Hated. Despised.

But because of Jesus's actions, Zacchaeus feels compelled to repent! Not just to say he's sorry - but publicly, openly, and through his actions, undo the wrong he has done in a very tangible way. He's rich because he has stolen and cheated his fellow man. How does he go about righting this wrong? By giving back - not just what was taken, but four times the amount. And half his goods to the poor. He didn't just apologize, say sorry. He didn't just break even. He overwhelmingly repented.

And because of this, salvation comes. True salvation comes through repentance. Zacchaeus repents because of Jesus' actions, not because of his words. Jesus loves Zacchaeus first, and repentance follows. We all wrong others, and we all have been wronged. What we do with that makes all the difference. Will you love those who have wronged you? Will you repent when you wrong others? That is the gospel.


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