It occurs each as soon as and some time. A giant-name “sinner” claims she or he has been unsuitable.
On listening to such a declare, some scoff: “Ha! Impossible!” Conversely, others begin making ready the victory parade and welcoming all to come back rejoice—the sinner has repented!
Both sides makes a legitimate level. Sure, we must be cautious earlier than merely believing every part we hear. And solely God can convey change that bears lasting fruit. We must be able to rejoice the return of a prodigal coronary heart, imagine the perfect about others, and guard our hearts from pointless cynicism.
However how do we all know the distinction between mere regret and full-blown repentance?
To this query, the Bible speaks—loudly. And in the long run, it causes us to ask another.
There as soon as lived a person who was a horrific sinner. He was an knowledgeable swindler. Cash was his god. His faith was achieve.
There was one other man, a distinct man. He was the non secular kind, enjoying the function of treasurer for a non-profit, if you’ll. He regarded reliable, although he liked cash too—for non secular causes, in fact. He adopted Jesus. He had witnessed mighty works and compassionate deeds. And sooner or later this man, Judas, noticed true repentance firsthand.
As he adopted Jesus by Jericho, they abruptly stopped as a result of Jesus noticed a person sitting up in a sycamore tree. Jesus known as the person to come back down and host him for a meal.
The person descended the tree and, as he drew nearer, the gang gasped. It was the horrific sinner himself! Right here was the swindler, the scammer, the greed monger. Zacchaeus. Simply his title made the blood boil. If solely Jesus had recognized what number of previous women had misplaced their final greenback to this man’s methods (Luke 19:5–7).
The gang pressed in, peering by the doorway and the home windows in hopes of seeing Jesus put Zacchaeus in his place. Maybe some even thought Zacchaeus arrange the entire encounter himself, to shine his picture within the public eye. That’s it! This was nothing greater than a publicity stunt to fabricate grace after pilfering the group with salacious greed. Right here it comes, they assume. Let him have it, Jesus!
However as an alternative of Jesus, it was the swindler who spoke:
And Zacchaeus stood and mentioned to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus mentioned to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8–10)
The onlookers might hardly imagine their ears. From grasping fraud to godly follower? From exploiting the poor to paying them again?
It was greater than they might take. Some most likely erupted into tears of pleasure as a result of that they had been wounded for years by Zacchaeus’s gimmicks. His penitent motion was a therapeutic balm to their anxious souls. Others embraced these round them in aid that the falsehood was completed. One much less wolf to threaten the sheep. Nonetheless others, although, refused to simply accept this as true repentance.
As days turned to weeks, and weeks to months and years, Zacchaeus made good on his guarantees and continued in his newfound religion. His repentance was actual, his everlasting peace safe.
Lesson within the Aftermath
Again on the desk that day, I think about Judas trying on considerably indifferently. He doesn’t appear to know that he would change into the “son of perdition” (John 17:12) and that Devil would enter him throughout historical past’s most heinous betrayal (Luke 22:3; John 13:2).
However I can even see Judas trying on considerably nervously—maybe even irritated with conviction. I can think about him clutching the cash bag just a bit bit tighter, pondering whether or not anybody might inform that his personal actions had been no completely different from Zacchaeus’s—although he was a lot better at hiding them.
In his Gospel account, the apostle John reveals his readers what was in Judas’s coronary heart. Throughout Mary’s lovely show of worship, she had used costly fragrance and her personal hair to clean the toes of Jesus (John 12:3). Judas, protesting that such an act was a waste of cash, confirmed his true colours. John factors out that Judas “was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).
Later, overridden with guilt after betraying Jesus unto dying, Judas was remorseful however not repentant. He tried to undo what he had executed by throwing the soiled a reimbursement on the toes of his shady enterprise companions (Matt. 27:4–5). It was blood cash, dripping pure and pink from the righteous Lamb himself. Even nonetheless, that very same blood might’ve lined his sin—if he would actually have repented and turned to Christ. Certainly, Judas remembered what repentance regarded like. Repentance is self-exposure, the center laid naked, the thoughts decided to move in a brand new course! Certainly he knew that every one it will take to make issues proper was working to Christ in confession. As a substitute, he hid within the shadow of disgrace. Certainly, Judas’s effort was nothing greater than a feeble try to hold fruit on a useless tree. However solely real repentance produces real fruit (Matt. 3:8). In spite of everything he had seen firsthand, Judas undoubtedly knew that mere regret couldn’t account for his sin towards God.
Via the lives of each Zacchaeus and Judas, the Bible speaks with unwavering readability. Zacchaeus was really repentant, displaying religion by his confession and open accountability. Judas was merely remorseful, remaining within the shadows of guilt as a result of he’d betrayed the Son of God.
Judas knew regret wouldn’t do. Why, Judas, did you not repent?