Today we shall be answering this question, did Zacchaeus restitute? Luke 19:1-10 is the only example of restitution those who teach restitution rely on but there are other restitution cases in the Old Testament. One is King David’s adultery and murder (2Sam. 11 and 12). Did you notice that four of David’s sons died after his adultery (Bathsheba’s infant, Amnon, Absalon, Adonijah)? You will find the other examples and details in my soon to launch book “Should a Christian Restitute?” Subscribe to this blog with your best email to be the first to know when it is released.
Let’s start by looking at who Zacchaeus is. Zacchaeus means righteous. He had an identity crisis. He was one thing and acted another. All that didn’t detract Jesus from seeing who this guy really is. Jesus saw beyond his actions he saw his true identity before God so it was easy to relate with him and show him kindness that the other religious guys wouldn’t do.
He was a publican. Publicans were employees of the Roman government to collect direct taxes and custom taxes. These tax collectors were usually natives of the provinces in which they were stationed. The tax system created by the Roman government was a vicious one. They used a man against his own people. As a tax collector you were forced to hurt your own people. They were regarded as traitors and tools used by the enemy against God’s own people.
These publicans overcharged (Lk.3:13) and made false allegations (Lk.19:8) against their own people just to extort some extra cash. Anything that will bring in some extra cash was employed against their own people. It was the basest of all livelihoods. The publicans were mean men. Even Jesus and his disciples were not left out. Zacchaeus enriched himself by the blood of his own people. These acts was alien to the Jewish culture but they were now in a situation where it was their own people that were now engaged to extort from them and live this sort of life style.
So to the Jews the publicans were seen as the enemies and traitors of God’s people. They were highly detested and abhorred by the Jews. Zacchaeus been a chief publican (Lk.19:2) meant he was a chief sinner, traitor, an apostate, enemy and most hated by the Jews. But Jesus saw him differently. No matter how far a sinner goes Jesus sees you differently.
You can never out sin his grace. You can never be too far away from his arm of love. Jesus did not wait for him to restitute before he will reach out to him. God is not waiting for a man to strengthen his life before he will show him goodness. Instead God will keep showing you goodness upon goodness to make you ‘repent’ (Rom.2:4). Remember it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died (Rom.5:8). Don’t wait to fix your past before you come to Jesus. Don’t wait to do restitutions and penance before you come. Just come boldly to him.
So did Zacchaeus Restitute?
Yes Zacchaeus restituted. But you need also to know that the era they were in was still the Old Testament so it was okay for him to restitute. Christ was not yet his savior and the propitiation for his sins. Jesus came and also lived under the law but with the intention to fulfill and abolish the law (2Cor.3:13; Heb. 8:6-13). The New Testament actually began after the death burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. So what Zacchaeus did was in order as stipulated under Old Testament laws (Ex.21 and 22). But in the New Testament now that Jesus has paid the price for our sins and debts we have been delivered from judgment and condemnation (Isa.53:5-6; 1Pet.2:24; Jn.3:17; Rom.8:1).
For us to really understand the Bible we must know how to rightly divide the word of truth (2tim.2:15) as the scriptures admonishes us to. We must know what is first of all Old Testament and what is New Testament and we must know what is written to the Jews, to the heathen and to believers in Christ. If we mumble and jumble it all we will only get ourselves confused. Rightly dividing does not mean to divide the bible into sections and take the part you want and throw the rest away. It simple means to rightly and properly apportion. It also means to rightly divide the dispensations. So that we know where we fall in and all that is ours there.
Restitution is one of the Old Testament laws and since the believer in Christ is not under the law (Rom.6:14) invariably the believer today is not under the law of restitution. The entire bible is written for us but all the bible is not written to us. The Jews were promised a kingdom on earth; the believer is promise the New Jerusalem and the gentile or heathen that rejects Jesus as his savior hell (Jn3:18). Rightly dividing the word puts everything in it proper place, reserved for the people it is promised to.
When Did the New Testament Begin?
The Bible is very clear that, the Old Testament covenant was done away with and the New Testament covenant was brought into force by God himself. Jeremiah 31:31 says
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
And Hebrews 10:9 adds:
“…He takes away the first that He may establish the second.”
So now that we have clearly seen that the Old Covenant was at one time set aside, when actually did the New Testament really begin from?
Hebrews 9:15-17 has the answer:
“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”
From the above scriptures we can make the following assertions:
- Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant.
- He died before he could be the mediator of the New Covenant.
- There cannot be a testament without the death of a testator.
- The testament is only in force when the testator dies.
- The testament has no power once the testator is still alive.
Now we can clearly see that the New Testament did not begin until Christ the testator of the New Covenant died. So we can boldly say the New Testament commenced after the death of Jesus. All that Jesus did and said before his death was not necessarily New Testament. What Zacchaeus did was not a New Testament practice. Zacchaeus was still under the law. So he did as the law commanded.