yesterday, we examined two encounters with Jesus, recorded by luke in chapters 18 and 19 of his gospel. Jesus is on his way to jerusalem, and in about a week, will die on the cross. it’s crunch time, and the words of these encounters take on a heightened meeting as the shadow of the looming cross falls over them…
in luke 18.18-24, Jesus encounters a religious leader, head of a local synagogue, who is very rich.
in luke 19.1-10, it’s another very rich guy, but with a very different social status.
the talk compared the two.
from first to last, the only thing these two guys have in common is their money. and while everyone in the audiences that witnessed these two encounters in real time were shocked at the outcomes, we know how they end. the question is, which of the two will we imitate?
here are seven key differences between the two men:
1. the religious leader was admired by all (18.18); zacchaeus was despised by all (19.2)
2. the first wanted Jesus approval (18.18); the second wanted Jesus (19.3-4)
3. the leader thought he was complete (18.21); zacchaeus knew he was empty (19.8)
4. the leader wound up trusting himself and serving mammon (18.23); zacchaeus trusted Jesus and served God (19.9)
5. the religious leader’s encountered ended in sadness (18.23); zacchaeus’ encounter ended in joy (19.6)
6. the religious leader clung to his old life and nothing changed; zacchaeus embraced a new life and everything changed!
7. Jesus’ words about the religious leader: “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (18.24). his words about zacchaeus: “salvation has come to this house today!” (19.10)
in both cases, it was all about the money. it’s a topic Jesus took on more than any other. he knew – as we should – that nothing wrecks relationships more than money. greed kills not only relationships with even our most loved friend on earth. it kills our relationship with God.
God’s word is clear, from beginning to end: those who follow him give. we give because he commands it, and he commands it because giving – more than anything we can do – proves our trust in Him. and our trust in Him is most important to Him.
the old testament mandate is the first 10% of everything – everything – we earn or receive. given that 100% of all we have is a gift from God, keeping 90% of it seems like a pretty good deal to me.
the new testament model goes even further – calling us to give all that we possibly can, beginning with the first 10%.
your giving reflects your relationship with and your trust in God. plain and simple.
and those who give biblically will tell you – if you ask them – that it’s worth it more than they can tell you. personally, i don’t know a soul who gives biblically who regrets it.
so… what would an encounter between you and Jesus around the matter of money look like?