God With Us – Make Your Resolution Restitution

Luke 19:5-10When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Today I call upon you to make your resolution a restitution as we seek to please God by turning away from sin; being completely restored in Him since our life exudes the evidence of our rebirth into a newness of life in Christ. Restitution is defined as the restoration of something lost or stolen to its original owner, also it could be viewed as recompense for injury and finally the restoration of something to its original state. Restitution is a very biblical concept in which we see both in old and new testament the mind of God on the subject. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were under the Law, which specified restitution in a variety of circumstances. (Exodus 22:1, 3-6, 14). Leviticus 6:2-5 covers other situations in which the stolen property is restored, plus one fifth of the value. Restitution was made to the owner of the property (not to the government or any other third party), and the compensation was to be accompanied by a guilt offering to the Lord. The Mosaic Law, then, protected victims of theft, extortion, fraud, and negligence by requiring the offending parties to make restitution.

The amount of remuneration varied anywhere from 100 to 500 percent of the loss. The restitution was to be made on the same day that the guilty one brought his sacrifice before the Lord, which implies that making amends with one’s neighbor is just as important as making peace with God.
Now, as we studied the full background is restitution; I would like for us to go to the new testament as we consider a widely read bible story that speaks directly of restitution. This is the story of Zacchaeus.

In Luke 19:1-10 we see the story of a tax collector named Zacchaeus whose shameful methods were known throughout Jericho. This story has been retold countless times but sadly has been misconstrued due to many preachers placing the wrong emphasis to the set lesson of Christ. Some preachers would share this story to exemplify decisionism, na kahit maliit ka at makasalanan ka; tatanggapin ka ni God just as you are hindi tulad nang mga pariseo na huhusgahan ka at uusigin. It will then be stretched to state that Zacchaeus was saved due to sincerity of heart as he decided to accept Christ as savior that day. Though in some ways correct, but the direct message is riddled with holes. My prayer is that we will be able to study the passage as God wants us to interpret it by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to completely understand the meaning of restitution and why it should stand as our complete resolution to please our King. There are three characters here, mainly Jesus, Zacchaeus and the Townsfolk; In Luke 19:1-4 states the coming of Christ and Zacchaeus climbing a Sycamore tree in order to see Jesus through the crowd. Verse 3-4 states – “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”

So we see Zacchaeus a rich, short man trying to see who Jesus was; and letting nothing stand in his way, Zacchaeus climbs the tree. It wasn’t curiosity that moved him to seek God nor a contrite self defined heart to change; kasi kung gusto talaga nya magbago mula sa kanyang pandaraya; ginawa na niya ito. Zacchaeus sought out Christ because true restitution begins with divine election. God purposed Zacchaeus to come to Him at that exact moment in order that His glory maybe seen. It was Zacchaeus election that moved him to stand resolute in restitution.

Verse 5 affirms this with Christ’s reaction after seeing Zacchaeus; “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” The term Must pops up to me here; must being defined as to be urged, compelled, commanded or requested paints for us a picture of intense urgency; urgency for what? Urgency to bring salvation to the house of Zacchaeus; but in order for salvation to come; there must be complete restitution.In verse 6-7; we see Zacchaeus welcoming Christ into his home much to the dismay of the townsfolk who irrevocably hated Zacchaeus first for being who he was, and second for the malpractice he committed. The people were dismayed at Christ for going in to the house of a sinner, a publican and the chief of them all. Christ does not answer; instead Zacchaeus exudes the first fruits of his election and salvation; he proclaims in verse 8: “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”

Friends, Zacchaeus who was looked down upon, who was disdained and hated; stood no longer himself but a new creation no because of what he did but simply because the Holy Spirit convicted him to right action as he resolved for restitution.

From Zacchaeus’s words, we gather that 1) he had been guilty of defrauding people, 2) he was remorseful over his past actions, and 3) he was committed to making restitution for all the things he’s done.

Jesus in verse 9-10 then states – “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” From Jesus’ words, we understand that 1) Zacchaeus was saved that day and his sin was forgiven, and 2) the evidence of his salvation was both his public confession as found in Romans 10:10 which states – “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” and his relinquishing of all ill-gotten gains. Zacchaeus repented, and his sincerity was evident in his immediate desire to make restitution. Here was a man who was penitent and contrite, and the proof of his conversion to Christ was his resolve to atone, as much as possible, for past sins. Here we see a new creation; one who does not excuse the things he did; but with a contrite heart asks for forgiveness and makes restitution which exudes a broken spirit that is a pleasing sacrifice to God. Zacchaeus’ actions showed strong resolve. The evidence of his salvation is not because of his decision, nor was because he was inwardly good; the evidence was the desire and commitment to follow through with true restitution; to be right in the eyes of our brethren and most importantly in the eyes of God.

That is why Christ affirmed Zacchaeus’ salvation, because he was a classic example of one who was lost but is now found; one who did wrong but because of the Lordship of Christ in His life turned for repentance not just in word but in deed; resolute for true restitution. In this passage, it was not Zacchaeus who was the main character but the new creation that Zacchaeus had become by the Lordship of Christ in His life. It was his resolve that stood as evidence of his election into salvation since he bore humility instead of pride or shame, he bore repentance instead of defensiveness and finally he stood for restitution instead of asking for grace to cover all multitude of wrongs.

Now that is salvation, to not only turn away from sin, from wrong but to do what is right and face the consequences of each action. That is what it means when we state the phrase- no longer I but Christ who lives in me; since we no longer think on the effect of our actions, nor how it will affect our reputation but we lay it all down since the eyes of our heart have found the true treasure; that is why we can lay down our reputation, pride, wealth, ambition, hopes and even dreams; since none of these are precious save He who is precious, He who is the gift; He who is our Lord and Savior; Him who is our God!

Dear Saints, today I would like to ask whether you would like to join me in seeking restitution? Are you willing to stand with me and be like Zacchaeus who dropped everything including every treasure he held dear if it meant a restoration of His spirit in Christ? Who would stand with me to make a firm resolve to stand for true restitution? Who would stand with me who have been elected to His purpose, to worship the King in spirit and in truth as we proclaim His lordship in each aspect our existence; pleasing God through a contrite heart and broken spirit; whose character clearly exudes the newness of life that we are able to state the tried and true statement of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

God With Us is the weekly publication of Abundant Harvest Fellowship International that features the message bestowed the previous week. It is a Christ centered devotional that aims to augment the quiet time and bible study time of every believer who truly seeks to focus on God, grow deeper in His word and walk in the Newness of life in Christ Jesus. Reproduction, printing and sharing of the said work is encouraged but kindly refrain from changing, editing the said piece since it might misconstrue the original message being shared.