“And Jesus said unto [Zacchaeus], This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:9)
Zacchaeus was arguably public enemy number one in Judea since he was the chief of the publican tax collectors. He was despised as a traitor and probably universally hated in the community. However, we see the genuine repentance displayed by Zacchaeus, not just committing to act honestly going forward but to make full restitution for past offenses and even restore fourfold to everyone he had previously defrauded. As a result of his sincere and radical repentance, Jesus tells him that “salvation is come to his house today”. Salvation and deliverance come to our homes when we humbly repent of our sins and commit to honest service to Jesus Christ in our lives. There is a deliverance when the leaders of our households (especially the fathers) commit to serving Jesus Christ, not just in their lives in general, but commit to making Jesus Christ the Lord of their house as well. We can experience “salvation coming to our house” when we serve Jesus Christ in sincerity and devotion in our homes with our family.
Zacchaeus is introduced to us as the chief of all the publicans and was very rich (Luke 19:2). Publicans were very despised in first-century Judean culture because they were natural-born Jews who chose to extort money from their kindred on behalf of Rome. The publicans were in charge of collecting the Roman taxes in Judean. Instead of just collecting the Roman taxes actually due, the publicans also charged exorbitant fees and interest that they personally pocketed to become very wealthy. Therefore, the publicans not only were viewed as national traitors (Jews working for Rome) but were also getting rich due to charging excessive fees on their kindred for their own personal gain. Publicans were despised by the general Jewish society, being grouped with harlots, sinners, and heathens (Matt. 9:10-11, 11:19, 18:17, 21:31-32). Publicans, in general, were despised by Jews, but Zacchaeus, being the chief of the publicans, no doubt would have been one of the most hated men in all of Judea and Jericho.
Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus, but since he was short (little of stature), he ran and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Jesus told him to come down out of the tree and make haste because he was going to come and abide at Zacchaeus’ house today (Luke 19:3-5). The people murmured against Jesus because they were shocked that he would go be a guest in the home of a “sinner” (Luke 19:7). Zacchaeus was well known in this community to be an egregious “sinner” because of him defrauding people on their Roman taxes. Interestingly, Zacchaeus’ name means “pure”, but yet he was not living in a very pure manner, getting rich by essentially extorting his fellow Jews on their taxes. Zacchaeus obviously now feels a strong conviction for his sins and tells Jesus that he will give half his goods to feed the poor and will restore fourfold to everyone who he has defrauded by false accusation (Luke 19:8). When John the Baptist was baptizing, his requirement for “fruits meet for repentance” for publicans to be baptized was that they collect no more than that which is appointed them (Luke 3:12-13). It was sinful for these publicans to charge others more than was appointed to them. Zacchaeus did not just offer to be honest going forward and charge only what was due. He does what would be deemed very radical repentance to give half of all the riches he dishonestly accumulated to the poor. Then, he even offered to give every single person four times what he had defrauded them by false accusation (which was probably every single person that paid taxes).
Now, Zacchaeus is essentially offering to give away all his money and live as a poor man going forward. After he gave up half his money to the poor, almost all of the other half of his money would be gone after he paid every single person four times what he originally made off of them. It appears that Zacchaeus had been consumed with covetousness and a love of money. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:10) Zacchaeus coveted after riches and had a love of money. He had pierced himself through with many sorrows due to his covetousness and was publicly known as a sinner and hated by the entire community. When Zacchaeus chose to repent, salvation came to his house when he was delivered from piercing himself through with many sorrows when he repented of his love of money. Jesus told Zacchaeus, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10) Salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house when he chose to repent of his sins. Also, note that Jesus came to seek and save those sheep that are lost. Obviously, Zacchaeus was a “lost sheep” and Jesus came to seek him and bring salvation to his home by calling on him to repent of his sin. In like manner, salvation can come to our house as well, when we repent of our sins.
Interestingly, in just the prior chapter, Jesus delivered a parable contrasting a Pharisee and a publican to condemn those prideful Pharisees who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others, looking down on others like the publicans (Luke 18:9-14). Many of Jesus’ parables taught lessons based on real-life events, most of the time with the names and places removed to protect the guilty. It is very likely that the repentant publican that Jesus described in Luke 18 was Zacchaeus who manifests his repentance publicly just a few verses later in Luke 19. This publican felt the weight of his sin and would not lift up his eyes to heaven but smote upon his breast, saying “God be merciful to me a sinner”. Notice the effect of the prayer of repentance by this publican. Jesus affirms this man went “down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14). This publican prayed the true “Sinner’s Prayer”. We don’t pray a prayer of repentance to go from hell to heaven. After we are already born again and feel the conviction of our sins, we need to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” of repentance. However, the effect of this publican’s “Sinner’s Prayer” was not him being saved to heaven, but him going home that day “feeling saved”, feeling justified, feeling a peace and assurance in his soul that he is now at peace with God, being justified by faith (Rom. 5:1-2).
Salvation came to this publican’s house when he prayed his prayer of repentance, begging for God’s mercy on his sins. Salvation comes to our house as well when we pray this model “Sinner’s Prayer” – “God be merciful to me a sinner”. However, just praying this prayer is not enough to constitute repentance and salvation coming to your house. Repentance is a 180-degree turning in the opposite direction from a course of action. There must be a change of our actions in conjunction with a prayer of repentance. This 180-degree turning of repentance is amazingly displayed by Zacchaeus, not just deciding to be honest going forward but also making fourfold restitution to everyone that he has wronged in the past. When we repent and change our actions going forward and we pray to God for mercy on our past sins, we feel a deliverance and peace in our soul. This change of life should change how we live our lives and especially how we operate in our home. Not only do we feel deliverance in our home, but there is a deliverance from unprofitable actions in our home when we change our manner of life in repentance.
We see the deliverance of not just the believer, but the deliverance of their entire “house” when they commit to serving God with all their life and their house. Cornelius already “feared God with all his house” before Peter came to preach to him (Acts 10:2). Cornelius was already a born-again child of God living in a godly way in serving God with his family, but he did not yet have the gospel knowledge he needed. Peter comes and preaches to Cornelius and all his family and friends. They respond to the gospel and those who believe are baptized. As Peter recounts this story later to the Jerusalem church, he says that an angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Acts 11:14) It is very probable that all of Cornelius family that lived in his home believed the gospel and was baptized. Regardless of if all of Cornelius’ family believed or not, salvation came to Cornelius’ house that day when he repented and believed the gospel. The priorities of his house changed when Cornelius joined the church. Deliverance and salvation came to his house when Cornelius as the spiritual leader of his house committed to serving Jesus Christ in the church kingdom. Cornelius and his house had received “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18), not gaining eternal life but having the joy to enter into the abundant life in the kingdom of God.
As Paul and Silas are thrown into prison in Philippi, they prayed and sing praises to God at midnight (Acts 16:23-34). There is an earthquake, and the doors of the prison were flung open, but none of the prisoners fled. The jailor came out and was about to kill himself because he thinks all the prisoners have fled. Paul and Silas tell him to not hurt himself because they are all still there. The jailor’s response was “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer for the jailor’s salvation from Paul and Silas was: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31). They come into the jailer’s house and spake the word of the Lord to all that were in his house (Acts 16:32). Then his whole house – “he and all his” – were straightway baptized, and he believed in God with all his house (Acts 16:33-34). This jailer was probably originally very afraid that he would be personally killed for the penalty for losing the prisoners. Not only would he most likely be killed for this, but his whole house and family would be killed by the Romans for this offense of losing all the prisoners. This deliverance was not just spiritual, but also physical for him and his family. Thankfully, none of the prisoners left (a miracle in itself), and he was not in danger of that capital punishment.
This jailor and all his family believed and were baptized and joined the church. From Peter’s original declaration, when they believed, the jailor and his family were “saved” (Acts 16:31). They were not saved from hell to heaven when they believed but were saved from the fear and terror of losing their life. They had not yet been told by the magistrates that they were no longer in danger of death, but it didn’t matter now because now they knew and believed they had eternal life through Jesus Christ. It didn’t matter to them if they lost their natural life because now they knew they had eternal life in Jesus Christ. Salvation comes to our house when we believe on Jesus Christ, especially deliverance from the fear of danger and death in this world. The worst anyone can do to us in this world is take our natural life and for the believer in Jesus Christ, that just makes our eternal joy with God in heaven begin a little sooner. That gives us and our family a great deliverance from fear in this world when we face great perils in our lives. Jesus desires fellowship with his children in their home. Jesus is standing at the door of the church knocking and waiting for an invitation into our home for fellowship with his children (Rev. 3:20).
We see Noah saving his house by his diligent devotion to God as well. Noah’s prudence to obey the command of God to build an ark was the means of God “saving his house” from death and judgment. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Heb. 11:7) Noah delivered and saved his house from physical death because he committed to honoring the word of the Lord in his home. Noah’s entire family was committed to building this ark for 120 years. No doubt his sons worked on this ark and contributed to its construction as well. Noah committed to serving God with his whole house and thereby saved his whole house when the time of God’s judgment came with the great flood. We need to be diligent to exalt God’s word in our homes with our families to save ourselves from the untoward generation around us as well (Acts 2:40).
In the world’s eyes, Zacchaeus was an egregious sinner that was not worthy of God’s grace. Honestly, that was probably true, and it is also true of every one of us as well. We don’t deserve the grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness of our loving Heavenly Father. We certainly don’t deserve the manifest presence and fellowship of Jesus Christ in our homes. However, when we repent of our sins and purge out the ungodliness out of our homes, that is now a place that Jesus desires to dwell. Jesus Christ will not manifest himself powerfully in our homes when we are allowing sin and ungodliness to grow in our houses. No, God will remove his close fellowship from us when we allow ungodliness in our homes. When we repent and turn from those wicked ways, there is deliverance and salvation that comes to our house. We want to feel the manifest presence of Jesus Christ in our most comfortable and intimate setting, which is our homes. Let us invite Jesus into our homes by removing all ungodliness that might hinder Jesus coming to our homes that salvation might come to our house today as well.