Luke 19:1-10: Zachaeus
He entered Jericho and was passing through it.
A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature.
Zacchaeus was a “big man” who was too short to see.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
Zacchaeus saw where Jesus was headed and went there. Can we see the direction Jesus is headed? What would it take for us to run ahead and meet him there?
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today."
Would Zacchaeus ever have spoken to Jesus? Why not?
Where does Jesus' senes of urgency (must) come from?
So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner."
What is it about grumbling that unifies us?
At this point in the story the word "all" forces us to ask which character we identify with and why.
Zacchaeus seems to be silenced by public opinion, locked down in battle between the power of money and the power of communal identity and acceptance. Does "everyone" minimize Z’s relationship with them to punish him? The story becomes a matter of retributive vs. restorative justice.
How does someone get to be a tax collector? Enslaved by success?
Who might be equivalent victims of success today?
Think about time in place of money. Who controls our time?
St Francis was known for being free of the love of money. Was he also free to use his time as God led him? What would it look like to today to be free of the tyranny of time and money?
Who are saints we’ve known who embody Christ’s freedom in this way?
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much."
Is that all it took? This sounds so easy. Why was he so ready for such radical change?
The story began with urgency: trying to see, ran ahead, hurry, hurried…until Zacchaeus “stood there” when Jesus reached his house.
Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.
Zacchaeus, who controlled our money as chief tax collector, is one of us, our family.
How did the crowd react? Ws it a a case of "the longer we grumble the harder we fall?"
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."
Those of us who forget God is saving us in our lostness find ourselves grumbling instead of rejoicing, feels like privileges violated (see prodigal son). Does anger become a privileged possession if we refuse to give it up? Whose house would we rather Jesus didn't visit, much less stay at?
This story’s strangeness comes from the way Jesus looks at a rich man and instead of challenging him to give up his cash, invites himself to the man’s house, (which upsets everyone in the crowd), then witnesses and affirms the man's radical transformation. Its another open ended story. How do we all feel about the transformation of someone we've learned to love to hate?
Karen L Munson
These posts share initial thoughts on the preaching text for each week's worship. Early in the week are "gut reactions" Later in the week, gleanings from study. Please join the conversation by adding your observations and comments of the text in the comment box. The Scripture is in regular font and my thoughts are in italics.