I WONDER about Zacchaeus…

Did Zacchaeus get saved that day?

Come on, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Was that tree climbing day his original salvation story? Or had he once believed but was back-slidden? Was this story the day that Zacchaeus rededicated his life to the Lord?

Don’t get too worked up here. Keep going with me –

We believe Zacchaeus was a Jew. Smith’s Bible Dictionary (link here) told me that we can infer that from his name and the fact that Jesus calls him “a son of Abraham.”

We know the crowd thought him “a sinner.”

We read that Jesus himself said, “Today salvation has come to this house.”

On March 10, 1999, I was doing a group study on The Baptist Faith and Message and wrote in a journal, “I find it ironic that this text (Luke 19:10) is used in a chapter about election.” I remember that I found it also ironic way back then that election was even a topic or doctrine listed in The Baptist Faith and Message. I was pretty sure that no one else in my class knew about election. I was prideful. I’d spent three years of college at a Reformed Baptist church and I knew all about it.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10

Ah, election. Jesus work completed.

Or is it free will?

The argument certainly could go that Zacchaeus made a choice for Jesus. Let’s face it – he climbed a tree.

I WONDER how our doctrine affects our teaching – even our teaching to children – especially our teaching to children.

And I say that I wonder HOW because I know that it surely does.

I struggle with it. I do not want to lead anyone astray.

Oh, no. I no longer really struggle with the antinomy (look it up, Grandma Portia taught it to me) of election and free will. It’s both somehow to me. Or neither. His ways and thoughts higher than ours and all that. And please stick with me, I realize that I’ve likely offended some by overly simplifying my references to each.

What I want to tell you is to take a deep breath and rest a bit. I asked a bible teacher once how she solved the dilemma of teaching a story when so many varied interpretations of it existed. (The story that brought this question was CREATION.) Her answer was this –

I simply teach the text.

Thank you, Dr. Anita Cooper. Thank you. The texts are beautiful. So often they overshadow the debates of the day. They reach out and grab us, with power and with grace.

I had one of those altar call experiences, so typical of Baptists, when I was young. Real young. Our son may or may not. He was baptized as an infant. I pray that he does have similar and several milestone moments that capture both his heart and his mind and become ebenezers for him.

The texts are rich. They stand firm through my risings and fallings of understandings and doctrinal leanings. I clung to election when I wrote in that journal in 1999. I don’t now. In the years between I’ve relished liturgy and sacrament that I never knew then. I’ve found a common denominator.


If Jesus himself IS salvation, then might the text not simply say, “Today JESUS has come to this house.”

And whether or not election seems all true, partly true, or not true at all to me today – this 3.10.99 journal reflection still makes me smile. I’ve written more of my family and my Baptist salvation experience. The Call of God was written during the same phase of my life. In the last decade, I’ve researched ages and stages of learning and pondered on how cognitive development compares with typical spiritual milestones in evangelical families. No matter our ages or stages, though –


I hope that he has come to your house. I hope that he is there now. I hope that you have and are and will continue to hear him call your name.

I would be honored and delighted to hear your story or stories of salvation coming to your house. The comments below are available …

2 thoughts on “I WONDER about Zacchaeus…

  1. My dad says the same thing when it comes to Creation. He teaches Old Testament at Wheaton College, so it comes up. He believes one thing about creation, but when it comes to teaching it, he simply teaches the text. Thanks for your great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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