Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “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 the lost.”
Zacchaeus was an excellent example of a repentant rich man. This story was not proving that he earned salvation through his faith-works, but rather his faith-work demonstrated that he fully comprehended the Kingdom of God and her values and repented. His repentant faith with fruit or faith-work in line with repentance was really swift and salvation had come to him. Jesus acknowledged him to be a son of Abraham in having true faith.
The rich young ruler’s response in Luke 18:15-30 was just the opposite of Zacchaeus’s. He understood what the Kingdom of God entailed, but he was not willing to repent and walked away sadly. It would be futile for him just to have a change of mind and not of the heart as evidenced in the fact that he could not make that faith-work of renouncing all his possessions.
I believe the Scripture intended to show the contrasting responses to the Kingdom of God one after another consecutively in Luke 18 and 19 so that we may know we can only enter the Kingdom of God with the right response of true saving faith in our hearts with faith-work or fruit in line with repentance.
With the right response of repentant faith, Zacchaeus’ name is written in the Book of life but not the un-named rich young ruler.
Faith without works (in line with repentance) is dead. (Luke 3:8).