Collect of the Week (Proper 17-C)
O Lord of grace and mercy, teach us by Your Holy Spirit to follow the example of Your Son in true humility, that we may withstand the temptations of the devil and with pure hearts and minds avoid ungodly pride; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Luke 19:1-10 (From the Bible Story Lectionary)
1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 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." 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 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." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Catechism: The Seventh & Eighth Commandments
What is the Seventh Commandment?
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.
What is the Eighth Commandment?
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
In the name of T Jesus.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. And there would have been nothing wrong with being a tax collector—“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25)—but Zacchaeus had a more serious problem. He had a problem with greed.
Now maybe it was the greed in his heart that made him seek the vocation of tax collector; who knows? But we do know that once he became a tax collector, the greed in his heart had been given an opportunity to satisfy itself at the expense of those he had been given to serve. And with his greed left unchecked, that is exactly what Zacchaeus had been doing.
Until Jesus came to him…
Jesus had come to seek and to save the lost, and with the sin of greed unchecked, Zacchaeus fit that description. So Jesus sought him out, and while Luke doesn’t give us all the details, Jesus brings this greedy-hearted-sinner to repentance, and with repentance came faith in Jesus. Now a son of Abraham again through faith, salvation had come to Zacchaeus, and with faith, there came the fruit of faith: love and service toward the neighbor.
Because of the surprise visit of Jesus to the house of Zacchaeus, it is easy to forget the end of the story, but it is the end of the story that illustrates how we might keep the Seventh Commandment. For Zacchaeus was not simply confronted, absolved, and restored; Zacchaeus also bore the fruit of that repentant faith in his giving back of what he had gained from his greed.
Like a shopper that returns extra change given by a clerk, or a citizen that pays the taxes he is due, even though the chances of an audit are slim, one of the ways faith in Jesus is demonstrated, is through Christians that keep their greedy hearts in check, and deal honestly with money. If money is owed, in repentance and faith, Christians seek to repay their debt. If another has been blessed, a Christian will not seek to have what has been given to another, but will seek to help that person keep their possessions and income. And if, like Zacchaeus, we have benefitted from acting on the impulses of our greedy hearts, in repentant faith we seek to “make it right;” to give back what is not rightfully ours.
Of course none of these actions are what bring us salvation. That comes through Jesus’ seeking and saving. But for Zacchaeus, and also for us, when we’ve been confronted, absolved, and restored, our faith simply cannot say “no” to what the Lord has “yes.” And so, we learn to love our neighbors by helping them to improve and protect their possessions and income.
In the name of T Jesus. Amen.
Lord, in Your name, we welcome all who repent and share in the forgiveness we have received. Grant us willing hearst to share the Gospel freely. Amen (TLSB, p. 1756).
Daily Prayer (For Tuesday)
We pray…for deliverance against temptation and evil; for the addicted and despairing, the tortured and oppressed; for those struggling with sin.