Friday, June 28, 2013

Sons of Abraham from All Eternity

It is well known and often pointed out that Luke 19:10 states the great theme (or at least one of the great themes) of Luke's account of the gospel of the kingdom. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." That's a dominant element, if not the dominant element, in Luke's message.

Just before this verse there is a peculiar and striking word from Jesus about Zacchaeus' salvation. Zacchaeus repents of his sin (Lk. 19:8) and manifests that repentance with "fruits in keeping with repentance" (Lk. 3:8). Then Jesus says, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham" (19:9).

Now take careful notice of the order. The dependent clause beginning with "since" gives the reason salvation comes to Zacchaeus' house. To say what it is not saying, in order to see what it is saying, Zacchaeus does not become a son of Abraham because salvation comes to his house. No. It's the other way around. Salvation comes to Zacchaeus' house because he is a son of Abraham. His being a son of Abraham is why Jesus came to seek and save him.

So it's clearer now why Jesus says in v. 5 that he "must stay at [Zacchaeus'] house today." He had to stay at his house because it was the next stop in seeking and saving the lost—the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

So we better take this to heart, and let it deeply move and affect us inwardly right the way to the bottom of our beings. Jesus seeks and saves, and salvation comes to us not because of anything we've donebut because we're chosen from all eternity as sons of Abraham.

Incidentally, note well the tension between 19:9 and 3:8, and engage in doing theology to figure out what this must imply. It seems it must mean one of two things. Either this man was a Jew, and so there is an "Israel within Israel" (cf. Rom. 9:6). Or, if Zacchaeus was a Gentile, then there are true Jews who are Jews, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, that is, who are circumcised in heart (Rom. 2:28-29; cf. 9:8; Phil. 3:3).

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