Scott LaPierre Ministries
Does Zacchaeus Teach Restitution for Salvation? (Luke 19:1-10)
Sometimes people wonder, “Is restitution needed for salvation? I committed all these sins before becoming a Christian. Do I need to do anything about them now?” If there’s one place in Scripture that could cause us to think restitution is needed for salvation, it is the account with Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10. Let’s look at it in detail to see what it does and doesn’t teach about restitution for salvation.
Table of contentsZacchaeus's ExampleUnderstanding Tax CollectorsFirst, Zacchaeus Was Curious Versus IndifferentSecond, Zacchaeus Responded Well to ConvictionThird, Zacchaeus Didn't Let His Height Hold Him BackFourth, Zacchaeus Didn't Let His Pride Hold Him BackFifth, Zacchaeus Sought JesusWhen Jesus Calls You by NamePeople Aren't Always Happy When Others Come to ChristZacchaeus Was the Opposite of the Rich Young RulerThree Reasons Restitution Is Not Needed for SalvationReason One: Restitution Is not Needed for Salvation Because Zacchaeus’s behavior is descriptive versus prescriptiveReason Two: Restitution Is not Needed for Salvation Because There Are Too Many Sins to CountReason Three: Restitution Is not Needed for Salvation Because We Are Saved by Grace Through FaithZacchaeus Is an Example of Repentance Producing FruitWhen "The Buzzsaw" Asked for ForgivenessGod Might Convict Us to Make RestitutionJesus Sought Zacchaeus FirstDon't Put Off the Gospel InvitationFootnotes
Sometimes people wonder, “Is restitution needed for salvation?" Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10 is one place that could cause us to think this.
Here’s part of an email I received from someone I don’t know…
Scott,As I reflect on my past and my many sins, I am more aware of how wretched and worthless I am. I am also convicted of sins I wonder if I need to undo? For example, when I was 16 and I worked at Ross I stole clothes. I am pretty sure I don’t own any of the clothes now, nor do I know the amount or worth of what I took. However, will I go to hell if I don’t find a way to pay back what I stole? There are so many other things I could list. I feel like my past is like Humpty Dumpty, and I can’t fix it.
Someone else sent me a message about a certificate he received after cheating on the exam. He didn’t know how to handle this. He wondered if he should stop using the certificate or go back and try to be recertified. But he didn’t know if he could do this because he was already certified.
I think messages like these capture something people commonly wonder: "Is restitution needed for salvation? I committed all these sins before becoming a Christian. Do I need to do anything about them now?"
If there’s one place in Scripture that could cause us to think restitution is needed for salvation, it is the account with Zacchaeus. Let’s look at it in detail to see what it does and doesn’t teach.
Understanding Tax Collectors
Luke 19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.
In the previous verses Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus as he approached Jericho. Now he entered the city.
Because we're reading about a tax collector, let me briefly explain them. Eight times in the synoptic Gospels it says, “tax collectors and sinners,” instead of “murderers and sinners,” or “adulterers and sinners.”
Why is it written as though being a tax collector is the worst sin imaginable? Because to the Jews, it pretty much was!
The Romans severely taxed the Jews, and the Jews who collected taxes for Rome were considered traitors to their people. Tax collectors were wealthy, and it was a wealth made off the backs of their already oppressed brethren. Tax collectors had to collect a certain amount and anything they collected over that amount they were able to keep for themselves. Because they worked for Rome they had Rome’s support, which prevented Jews from resisting them.