In the last chapter, we heard Jesus say that it is next to impossible for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. The rich man walked away rich but lost. In this chapter, the same story comes to a different conclusion.
The chief tax collector, rich on other people's money, seems to have a complete change of heart. Before he even talks to Jesus, before he hears any wise or challenging words, the short man who everybody hates completely forgets himself and climbs a tree just to sneak a glimpse of Jesus.
Then, for some unknown reason, Jesus pays attention to him and says he wants to visit his house. Unlike the previous rich man story, Zacchaeus was not hunting for a free ticket to heaven. Jesus did not need to talk about the commandments or give any teaching at all.
From what we can see, Zacchaeus speaks first, repents for the wrong he knows he has done, and promises to repay anyone four times anything he defrauded. If a rich man entering the kingdom of God is possible only through God, we know God must have worked in Zacchaeus's heart when Jesus himself declares that "salvation has come to this house."
But for the grace of God, his gift of faith, and his gift of a blossoming of repentance, all our plans for the Dong people will fail. We do not know Zacchaeus's story before seeing Jesus that day, but we do know that this kind of transformation is possible only by God.
May the Dong people be prepared for the gospel in the same way. They will still need teaching and discipling, but we should pray that the Holy Spirit will prepare their hearts before they see the Jesus Film, and once they do see it, it will be seeds falling on rich soil, prepared before hand.
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