Original-Identity Restoration

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

Jesus said to him (Zacchaeus), “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).

Scripture tells us of two types of justice. Retributive justice is when a person is punished for their wrong-doing. Restorative justice is when those who are unrightfully hurt or wronged are restored and given back what was taken from them. Most of the time in Scripture the word justice refers to restorative justice. (Credit to the article on Justice, thebibleproject.com.)

I believe Jesus is showing us restorative justice in the story of Zacchaeus.

Jesus, passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, heals a blind man. Eager to see what He might do next, a crowd continues on with Him.  

What He does next is encounter Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus—a wealthy chief tax-collector—had made his memorable climb up the tree (so he could see Jesus) and Jesus now makes His memorable request for him to come on down (singling Zacchaeus out to host Him at his house).

While Zacchaeus quickly scrambles down and gladly welcomes Jesus, the people begin to distance themselves from Jesus. They begin to judge Him for fraternizing with this sinner. (In those days people paired “tax-collectors and sinners” the way we pair “death and taxes.”)

The plot thickens as Zacchaeus lets forth with a most unexpected declaration. Speaking to Jesus he vows to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back four times whatever he may have cheated anybody.

We assume Zacchaeus did this out of remorse for his greedy and devious ways. After all, tax collectors were Jews who were employed by the Roman oppressors. Worse still, they were notorious for demanding the payment of an “add-on” tax to pad their own pockets.

Or maybe it wasn't out of remorse. Maybe he was trying to buy his way into Jesus' good graces with generosity and honest action.

Jesus sees what has actually happened, however. Zacchaeus has stepped into his original identity as a son of Abraham. That identity had been taken from him by life and his own choices. Now, by virtue of Jesus with him, it is restored. A lost son has been sought and saved by the Savior. Restorative justice has prevailed.

Because of his Original-Identity Restoration, Zacchaeus now has the capacity to act justly on behalf of others. Which he does.

Jesus is all about restoring our identities to their original God-created versions. What does that look like in your life?

Now prayerfully seek to complete this statement: “My own Original-Identity Restoration now enables me to partner with Jesus in extending restorative justice to _________.”

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