Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Luke 19:1-10 - The Lectionary Gospel Lesson for Sunday, October 31, 2010

This is New Revised Standard translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let’s discuss the Word of God.


1He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When 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.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus 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.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”


  1. Interesting passage. I read it last week and made some notes for my sermon germ file on how I would preach this. The most fun idea would be a sermon called SHORT MEN. In the end my theme would be short men can be big in spirit. I would probably talk about famous short men who over the centuries have achieved great things. St. Paul was probably a short man. They don't come much bigger than Paul in spiritual stature.

    Then as an alternative I might do an exposition of the passage. (I made some notes about my three points - I love a great three point sermon. Here are my ideas about the three points:

    1. Zac's vision was temporarily blocked by the crowd. That happens to us too. The crowd often keeps us from seeing the Christ. But if we climb up higher, we will see the one we want to imitate.

    2. Zac was a hospitable person. He welcomed people into his home and treated them with dignity. There is lots of material out there on hospitality to fill out this point.

    3. Zac was repentant and willing to make amends. He put his repentance into action. Repentance is more than mumbling contrite sounding words.

    And therein he found salvation.


  2. I once heard that because Jews were so despised they were given the so-called dirty jobs i.e., tax collector. Jesus, maybe, chose this man to demonstrate his father's love and willingness to forgive all if we repent. I can't think of anyone who doesn't feel the the need for repentance and forgiveness, acceptance and love whether it be here on earth from someone we have hurt or by our Creator,God. By the way, Jesus in his travels would have been doing his father's bidding and ministering to the people. People don't live in trees we live on ground level where we may see each other at eye-to-eye level. Jesus' action may have a tone of deliberateness in it. He didn't have to look up because a)he knew his father was watching and b)he too was a man. Jesus saw us at an eye-to-eye level.

  3. Summary
    Perhaps Zacchaeus wanted a controlled experience with Jesus, safe in a tree, where he could encounter Jesus, but not become vulnerable. Perhaps we come to church wanting a safe experience with God, comfort without challenge. Our encounter with the risen Christ is beyond our control, and may transform us in ways we didn't expect.

    I wonder what Zacchaeus wanted when he climbed that tree. He knew that Jesus was passing through Jericho and wanted to see him. With the crowd so huge, Zacchaeus couldn't see over them. When he climbed the tree, was he just curious about this traveling miracle-worker? Did he want a glimpse of the man who was creating such a buzz? Was a glimpse of Jesus simply a momentary distraction, a bit of excitement in an otherwise routine day? Did Zacchaeus want something more out of seeing Jesus? Did he hope that perhaps seeing Jesus would bring him a little bit of peace, some comfort? Was climbing the tree to see Jesus like rubbing Buddha's belly for luck? When everyone else hates you, you will do anything to feel better. Maybe seeing Jesus would make Zacchaeus feel better. Maybe for just a moment he wanted to feel part of the crowd, as though he fit in. Maybe he didn't quite know why he climbed the tree. Whatever his reason, whatever his mixed motives, we can be sure that when Zacchaeus climbed the tree he didn't expect what happened.
    Did Zacchaeus know the danger of climbing that tree? When he was a boy, did his mother tell him to be careful climbing trees? It can be dangerous. Even grown men can fall out of trees, resulting in serious injury. Zacchaeus finds that climbing trees can be dangerous for reasons other than broken bones. After he climbed that tree, his life changed forever. Climbing that tree cost Zacchaeus half of all he owned.
    Something happened to Zacchaeus up in that tree. He may have wanted only a glimpse, but he received something that penetrated to his soul. Luke doesn't tell us how Jesus knew Zacchaeus' name, but he looked up into the tree and made contact. We don't know why Jesus singled Zacchaeus out, why he spoke only to him. All we know is what Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." That doesn't seem like much does it? Could an invitation to dinner be that life-changing? Something in Jesus' words touched Zacchaeus; something made a difference.
    Standing under the tree, Zacchaeus pledges to give away half of his money, and pay back those he has defrauded fourfold. Something serious happened inside Zacchaeus. Luke doesn't let us in on the process. We don't see inside Zacchaeus' heart. We don't see him crying and weeping for his sins. We don't feel him give up his death-grip on his feelings of guilt. We know only that he is a changed man, and that the change really matters.

  4. I don't think this passage is about Zacchaeus. Instead, I believe it's about Jesus, who seeks out sinners.