Zacchaeus, Son of Abraham – Luke 19

The opening verses contain an account that is familiar to many of us from Bible classes as a child. Most of us remember singing about “a wee little man” named Zacchaeus. As chapter 19 begins, Jesus has arrived in Jericho, still making His way toward Jerusalem. There was a man there named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector and was rich (for an explanation of what it was that made such people notorious as sinners, see this previous post).

Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Jesus goes to his house for dinner and Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector, becomes an honest man -- Luke 19: 1-10.

Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Jesus goes to his house for dinner and Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector, becomes an honest man — Luke 19: 1-10.

He was anxious to see Jesus, but because he was a very short man, he could not see over the crowds. So he climbed into a sycamore tree to get a better look. When Jesus came upon him, he told him to come down because he “must stay at your house today.” Jesus going to the house of such a man was not a popular thing for Him to do, and the people were not happy about it (verse 7). Zacchaeus told Him that he had given half of his goods to the poor, and had made fourfold restitution to anyone he had defrauded. Jesus said “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.”

The class of tax collector, especially one of this rank (often referred to as Publicans), was so despised that the Pharisees would not have considered them to be children of Abraham, even though they were by birth. Jesus’ pronouncement of him as such was significant, and certainly implies that anyone can be a true child of Abraham, as Paul will tell us in Galatians 3:29.  Zacchaeus may have heard of Jesus’ calling Matthew, the tax collector, to be an apostle. He may have even heard of the parable Jesus had told in chapter 18 of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Such things would have given hope to those who had held none previously.

Was this the reason that Jesus said He must stay at his house today? Partly, for sure. But Jesus closes the scene with the statement “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The publicans had been excluded because of their sin. Jesus made clear time and again that He had not come for the righteous. He had come for sinners, and yes, for Gentiles. He was the fulfillment of God’s words to Abraham “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18

Luke tells us that Jesus “told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” This description causes us to infer, of course, that at least some of those He told it to were Pharisees themselves. The parable is about two men – one a Pharisee, a member of an elite group of religious leaders of the day that had a reputation not only for their knowledge of God’s laws, but also for their piety and rigid adherence to those laws as they themselves had interpreted them (most often more stringently than God had intended). The other man was a tax collector – not a mere collector of revenue as we think of them today, but one who would by way of their practices in those days certainly be a great sinner (for an elaboration of the corrupt system that they were a part of, see this previous post).

The Tax Collector

The Tax Collector (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pharisee thanks God for his own righteousness, and that he is not like those who commit great sins (such as the tax collector himself). He then lists some of those good things that he does that set him apart from others. The tax collector, on the other hand, recognizes that he is a sinner; and he confesses that to God in prayer, asking for His forgiveness and mercy. Jesus told them that unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector left the temple justified, for he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

All through His ministry, Jesus promotes humility, humbleness, love, and service to others. In Mark 9:33-37, He says that If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Paul who reminds us that nobody is without sin (Romans 3:10), says in 2 Corinthians 11:30 “if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” It is this sort of humble and contrite heart that pleases God. Proverbs 3:34 tells us that God gives favor to the humble. Burton Coffman most appropriately quoted Rudyard Kipling in this matter. We’ll leave you with this excerpt from his poem “Recessional:”

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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