Focal passage: Luke 19:1-10
In 2011, an elderly man who claimed he stole cash from a Sears register returned to the scene of the crime. He wanted to pay back what he had stolen more than 60 years ago with interest. The man left an envelope with a note confessing to the theft along with a $100 bill.
No one knew who he was. When a Sears manager was interviewed about the incident, he guessed that the man’s conscience “has been bothering him for the past 60 years.” After decades of guilt hanging over his head, the man must have felt an overwhelming sense of freedom.
Luke records the story of a similar man who probably felt the weight of his sins as he saw Jesus coming into town. Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, was unpopular with his contemporaries. His shady business dealings with the Romans and fellow Jews had acquired him great wealth and great mistrust.
When Jesus invited himself over to Zacchaeus’s house, it must have taken him by surprise. Why would such a well known religious leader want to associate with him? The surrounding crowd thought the same thing.
In response Zacchaeus said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (v. 8). Zacchaeus demonstrated his faith in Jesus by repenting and turning over a new leaf.
No matter who you are, acceptance awaits those who seek Jesus in repentance. Whether your sin has weighed you down for 60 years or 60 seconds, Jesus is ready to take the burden off of your shoulders.
Repentance is not a one-time act either. It’s an ongoing and integrated part of the Christian life. What in your life do you need to turn away from? What might you need to confess to God or a trusted friend?
1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is uncomfortable, but there is freedom when we let go of our baggage and nail it to the cross where Jesus died for it.