“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
In many countries of the world, people’s names mean something. For example in Hindi, Rani means Queen and Raja means king. In Tamil, Pū means ‘flower’ and ‘Anpu’ is one of the words for love.
In the Bible, we learn that Hebrew names have a meaning also. In Luke’s gospel, chapter 19, we read about a man called ‘Zacchaeus’ whose name means ‘the righteous one’. You could be forgiven for thinking that we are about to read the tale of an upright, noble, heroic man, but we read that Zacchaeus wasn’t quite living up to his name! Zacchaeus had leased a particular region from the Romans, the oppressors of the Jews, and became the overseer of all the tax collectors. He had subordinates from whom he collected commission. This made him wealthy, but his dishonesty also made him extremely unpopular with his fellow countrymen.
Zacchaeus was very rich, but we see that he was feeling that something was missing in his life. Maybe he was beginning to realise that he hadn’t lived up to his name and that doubts, and maybe even regrets, were creeping into his mind.
These niggling convictions caused him to cast aside his dignity and climb a tree as Jesus was passing by. He wanted to see Jesus but he didn’t want Jesus to see him!
When Jesus saw him, he started by calling him by his name, Zacchaeus (the righteous one). Jesus saw something in Zacchaeus that no one else saw. He saw that upright, noble, heroic man that hadn’t quite surfaced...until now!
Within a short time of being in the company of Jesus, Zacchaeus had made a decision that he now wanted his name to become his nature. He put right the things that he knew were wrong in his life and Zacchaeus became ‘the righteous one’.
Sometimes in life we, like Zacchaeus, can get these uncomfortable niggles too; these convictions that we’re not living up to the person that God wants us to be. Somewhere along the way we’ve not been as obedient, loving, forgiving or honest as we should have been. If we’re honest, we know that we’ve not been living up to the name ‘the righteous one’ either.
Friend, if this is where you find yourself today, then take encouragement from this wonderful story, the sense of the forgiveness of God, and the desire that there is in His heart to draw you back to Himself. You may be trying to hide from Him, but He sees you and, just as He lavishly poured out forgiveness on Zacchaeus, He wants to do the same for you.
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Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.