In the following article you will find a brief commentary on Luke 16, 17, 18, 19 that goes along with our Riverside Church Two Year Bible Reading Plan (Volume 1 & Volume 2). This plan will allow you to read the New Testament and Psalms once every year and the Old Testament once every two years.
Two Rich Men
It is interesting to look at themes that run throughout slightly larger portions of the gospels. Almost all of chapter 16 touches on the topic of wealth, often directly teaching and warning (see for example, 16:13). And of course the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus addresses the topic with disturbing implications.
But the theme continues. In particular, we read about two actual rich men. One, in chapter 18, was a moral and religious man; he was seeking eternal life. We call him the Rich Young Ruler. He would have been a prime candidate for church leadership. But he departs from Jesus in dismay when he is told by our Lord to sell all and give it to the poor before coming to follow as a disciple.
This of course astounds the disciples as they observe. How then, if wealth is a sign of God’s favor, can anyone be saved?
But in just a few short verses we read of a second rich man. This man is a much less likely candidate for salvation. He is not moral; he is not religious. In fact, he is crazy rich and corrupt. Not much hope here, right? Furthermore, there are severe natural impediments. There is an enormous crowd and Zacchaeus is unusually short. He will not be able to even see Jesus, much less know the benefit of meaningful interaction.
You may know the rest, but it is nonetheless powerful. He is marvelously saved. “Today salvation has come to this house!”
Are we surprised? No, for nothing is impossible with God, a truth stated after the encounter with the Rich Young Ruler, and demonstrated with Zacchaeus.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”