“For the Son of Man has come to save what was lost.” As far as I’m concerned this is one of the most important lines in the Gospels. What is most telling, though, about the story of Zacchaeus, is not that he was a sinner, but that he knew he was and repented by giving half his wealth to the poor, and restitution to those he extorted four times over. Jesus then declared salvation has come to his house because he rediscovered his heritage. He found himself.
While the crowd was unimpressed, Jesus drove his point home with the parable of the gold coins, like the parable of the talents in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus does not expect perfection nor he does he want us to be poor, (Zacchaeus kept half for himself after all)…but he does expect us to take our talents and become fruitful with them. And I think it is how we understand the word “fruitful” that makes all the difference in the world.
While I don’t despise wealth, I do despise what often happens with the gross accumulation of it. Like Zacchaeus, the temptation to get lost in it is always looming. The power that comes with it is almost always corrupting. Yes, Jesus doesn’t expect us to become poor, but he doesn’t want us to hold on to our riches either…the parable notes clearly what will happen if we do that. We will lose what we have.
Wealth will never make us acceptable in God’s eyes. Only what we do with it. Take a lesson from Zacchaeus.