Lk 19: 1 – 10
Be with us, Lord Jesus. Be our companion on our way. In your mercy inflame our hearts and raise our hope, so that, in union with one another, we may recognise you in the Scriptures and in the breaking of Bread.
Find the Sinner
We have all done those puzzles where we are asked to find the differences between two almost identical pictures. Well today the search is on:
- To find the sinner;
- To find to whom salvation comes.
As you read today’s text from your Bibles also pay special attention to the characters and their frame of mind. Read Lk 19: 1 – 10.
Did you find the sinner? I am sure many of you found Zacchaeus, the sinner????
Before we talk about him we will take a look the part Jesus’ playes in the story. He is in a hurry. He did not have any intention of hanging around Jericho, “Jesus entered Jerichco and was going through the town.” On meeting Zacchaeus he tells him, “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today” – not tomorrow or the next day, today. Jesus seems to have sensed an opportunity to do something very important and he will not be put off. Zacchaeus also feels the urgency and comes tumbling out of the tree, “he hurried down”.
Right through Luke’s gospel we are aware that Jesus brings a message of JOY. Zacchaeus “welcomed Jesus joyfully.”
Not everybody was happy. ‘They all complained when they saw what was happening. “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house.”’ Who could these people be? In 18: 31 we find Jesus talking to the Twelve, so they were present. In 18: 39 the crowd outside Jericho tells the blind beggar to keep quiet. And here they are at it again complaining and criticizing. All they know about Zacchaeus is that he is a tax collector, a chief tax collector and a wealthy one at that – he must be a sinner.
We have the Twelve and the local crowd, full of self-righteous indignation, bigoted, full of their own importance, pushing people around. I just wonder was Jesus in a hurry to teach them a very important lesson.
Our focus turns back to Zacchaeaus. Early in the story we are told that he was ‘too short and could not see Jesus for the crowd.’ This being ‘too short’ may not just say that he had a small build. Perhaps it is telling us that Zacchaeus had no standing in the community. He was not the kind of person that good people would associate with. A remarkable change comes over him, no longer does he have to accept the taunts and insults of others, ‘he stood his ground.’ v8
He said to Jesus, “Look, sir, I will give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.” This is probably what you read and concluded that Zacchaeus had taken Jesus’ teaching to heart. If you go to the original text you will find that the author used the present tense. “Look, sir, I give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I pay him back four times the amount.” Zacchaeus is a really an incredibly generous and honest person. Who in the crowd, or among us, could make such a claim? He is a saint and not a sinner.
Jesus says, “this man too is a son of Abraham.” v9
It is not Zacchaeus who is in need of being saved. It is the crowd and the Twelve that need to be saved but they are too blind to see their own need. It is of them that Jesus speaks when he says, “for the Son of Man has come to seek out and to save what was lost.”
In this story Zacchaeus accepts the graces offered. He goes from being an outcast to being a son of Abraham. He wants to see what kind of man Jesus is and discovers the Son of Man who “has come to seek out and to save what was lost.” v10