They say that money can solve 99% of our problems. What they neglect to say is that money causes 99% of all our problems. Jack Whittaker became the largest lottery winner in US history. At 11:00 pm, Christmas night, Jack hit the jackpot: $314.9 million. He couldn’t believe it. The winning numbers for the Christmas drawing were 53, 14, 5, 16, and 29, with a Powerball number of 7. He later told reporters, “I just want to thank God for letting the machine pick the right numbers.” Was it God or was it the devil? The Lord said, “You will know by their fruits.”
Despite having millions, Jack Whittaker lost what he prized the most: His only granddaughter. It didn’t all happen overnight, it took years. First, the assault charges then thieves breaking into his car and home, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars on various occasions. A year after winning, he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. More money ($85,000) was stolen from his car. He said, “I am ready to kill somebody.” Then three more assault charges. Later in the year he was hospitalized for undisclosed reasons. Last but not least, a judge ordered Whittaker to give up his driver’s license and start substance-abuse treatment. Finally, on December 9th, 2004, Whittaker reported his 18 year old granddaughter was missing. On December 20th, her body was found near a trash can on a friend’s property.
Rich man to poor man.
Compare his life to another man’s life: Zacchaeus. This man built his fortune on dishonest wealth. He lived in his own little world, population one. He may have been the wealthiest man in Jericho. For sure, he was a powerful figure, regardless of how short in stature he was. He had power, bodyguards, and most likely any woman he could get his hands on. But man’s greatest desire was missing from his life: to love and be loved. There was no throne for him to sit on. We know that people continue to live their lives regardless of their unwanted kings. Besides, for Zacchaeus, the seat next to the throne of his tiny little empire was vacant. No one dared or cared to occupy it. Zacchaeus was not only small in stature; he was tiny in his sphere of influence. His universe was small, his world even smaller.
But by all accounts Zacchaeus appears to have been a passionate man. That is, it was easy for him to enjoy company as it was to hate it. He had a better heart than most would suspect because he was easily hurt. For this reason, he came out to see Jesus. “Whatever” was not part of his vocabulary. And if it were, it was with one eye looking forward and one leg following the crowd. He wanted to be there because he wanted to be seen – found. He climbed up the tree and reached God. Never in a million years did he expect to hit the jackpot!
The Lord appeared. He saw Zacchaeus. History was made. “I will seat the victor beside me on my throne” (Ps 15:2). The most despicable man was honored and loved by the greatest man. His life became grand! He gave half of all his possessions. That's the moment he became a wealthy man. He repaid four times what he owed and his universe exploded and continues to expand to his day.
What is the difference between poor Jack and rich Zacchaeus? I am not sure. You are more than welcomed to share your thoughts. But for me, I consider myself extremely wealthy. It appears as though Zacchaeus reached out for the Lord and gave him his wallet, while if I were a millionaire, I would be greatly tempted to reach for my wallet and throw the Lord out.