Tax Reform-A.D. 30

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Last week Congressional Republicans began the process of negotiations between separate tax bills that passed the House and the Senate. Democratic leaders led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it “one of the worst bills in the history of the United States of America” because of its value to the rich.

Looking at this passage coming from Luke Chapter nineteen verses one through ten we know that Zacchaeus was a beneficiary of this proposed tax bills as a wealthy tax collector. As a chief tax collector, he was very profitable on his transactions. More critical is whether a rich man can achieve salvation a question that is thematic particularly in the Gospel of Luke. The narrative illustrates that Zacchaeus made an effort (ζητέω, cf. 9:9; 23:8) to see who Jesus was by climbing because of the crowd or his stature a sycamore tree (cf. 4:34 par. Mk. 1:24 for this construction). His curiosity was his motive. Zacchaeus is informed that Jesus has a reputation as the friend of tax-collectors.Zacchaeus shows us ways that are necessary to achieve Tax Reform A.D. 30 and for the proposed tax reforms A.D. 2017

Step One: Jesus' proposes a relationship. In the middle of a mob scene, in the center of a chaotic, cacophonous crowd, Jesus looks up and says, "Hey, bud, let's hang out together." Well ... that's the gist of it, anyway. Jesus desires a relationship with this tax collector, and so he reaches out to him, across barriers of sinfulness and respectability, social status and common sense. Zacchaeus is "a sawed-off little social disaster with a big bank account and a crooked job, but Jesus welcomes him aboard anyway. Zacchaeus does what is requested by welcoming Jesus into his home (ὑποδέχομαι, 10:38), and he does so with joy (1:14) since the coming of Jesus to share his house is a sign of fellowship and ultimately of forgiveness. The reform of Zacchaeus is an action by Jesus - an unexpected, undeserved and socially unacceptable act. It is a proposal that shows that the Lord desires relationships with sinners. We can all be thankful that it is while we are sinners that Christ first reaches out to us.

Step Two: Reform is promised. Almost twenty years ago there was a similar reform "Senate Votes 96-2 on Final Approval for Changing IRS," proclaimed The New York Times. (July 10, 1998). Zacchaeus make a similar reform decision during his encounter with Jesus when he decides to stop being a shakedown artist and to start shaking up his tax-collection management style. The statement of Zacchaeus is a reaction to the initiative of Jesus and the objections of the crowd. So that Jesus is freed from the suspicion of consorting with a sinner he makes a public declaration of his intention to live a new life. In such a situation a declaration of intent was an adequate sign of repentance At the same time, his action is to be seen as an expression of gratitude to Jesus for his gracious attitude to him, and as an example of the sort of change in life that should follow upon the reception of salvation. σταθείς (18:11; et al.) The reform of Zacchaeus comes from his statement “half of my possessions, Lord, I will give a financial limb as long as any branch on the sycamore tree, "and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Zacchaeus’s declaration in 19:8, “if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." This alludes to Exod. 22:1, “four sheep for a [stolen] sheep,” and 2 Sam. 12:6, “he shall restore the lamb fourfold.” He went beyond the legal restitution the amount plus twenty percent found in Levitical law (Lev. 5:16; Num. 5:7). Zacchaeus’s is willing to restore the breach that he has caused that developed his inward transformation resulting from his encounter with Jesus. The assertion in 19:10, “for the Son of Man came to This generous gesture exceeds any requirements of the law, and it shows the reforming power of a relationship with Jesus. The decision of Christ to stay at a house - the house of Zacchaeus, or the houses in which we live - has the force to free us from our most entrenched bad habits.

Step Three: Redemption is predicted. Long before the taxman returns any of his ill-gotten gains, Jesus anticipates his redemption, deliverance, and preservation from destruction by saying, "Today salvation has come to this house." Jesus senses that Zacchaeus is a changed man has begun the process of transformation. His shell has cracked, and the baby birds inside are just starting to come out. While it will be some time before he will be flying freely, Zacchaeus will never be able to return to his egg.

It is clear that the question we should be asking is not ‘Can the rich be saved?’ The wealthy or the oppressors are really in no different position than any other sinner, despite the additional difficulties they face.

Furthermore, from a political perspective, he is no longer viewed as a puppet of the Roman regime, but as a real brother or a son of Abraham (19:9). Thus, Zacchaeus now lives up to his name, which means ‘clean’ or ‘righteous,’ and becomes a living illustration of a person who is willing to demonstrate ubuntu toward the poor.

The story of Zacchaeus may be related to the land issue in countries such as Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, where former oppressors are not willing to share the land with the landless majority. Appeals are made to landowners to be more open so that the question of property can be solved peacefully and by the laws. How beautiful it would be if there were be more landowners like Zacchaeus who would voluntarily declare, ‘Look, half of my land I will give to the landless.’

The key to the taxman's salvation is a relationship: relationship with the Lord and relationship with the people around him. His connection to the Lord began with Jesus' desire to stay at his house and with Zacchaeus' enthusiastic welcome; his link to his fellow townspeople started with his promise to reform his cheating ways.

Salvation is the experience of losing yourself in the presence of God, now and forever. For Zacchaeus, redemption started when Jesus offered to enter his life, and when he responded by expressing a desire to reform himself. For us, it begins when we welcome Christ into our houses meaning, in this case, the houses of Congress and the Senate we commit ourselves to a sweeping shakeup of our most entrenched bad habits. Sometimes we are scared of the strength of our sinfulness, and we feel powerless to change our cheating hearts. But if Jesus is coming to visit, he gives us the ability to "clean house" and prepare for his arrival; he helps us to name our demons and sweep them out. Real reform is possible: for Zacchaeus, for the Tax Reform AD 2017 and us.

After all, if an "uncaring, arrogant, short man like Zacchaeus can be changed" of the government can be turned around by Tax Reform, each of us is transformed by the power and presence of Jesus Christ. Through a relationship with our Lord, and with each other, we can make the reforms of 2017 even more remarkable than the reforms of A.D. 30