Bible Stories for Grownups -
Luke 18:35-43, "Zacchaeus"
Luke 19:1-10, "Zacchaeus"
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Luke 18:35-43, "Zacchaeus" (8/26/2009)
While I was traveling in March, I listened to an Amarillo preacher on television while I was waiting for my husband to get ready for church. The sermon was about Zacchaeus the tax collector and three people that he was trying to collect taxes from in the month prior to climbing the famous sycamore tree. Now, as near as I could tell by looking in the actual Bible after the sermon, the preacher took three people for whom Jesus really did perform miracles and made Zacchaeus the local tax collector for all of them, even though they lived in three different places. (What do always I tell you? Read it for yourself!) However, the preacher's point
was exactly right, namely, that Zacchaeus had undoubtedly heard about Jesus and the miracles he was doing before
he climbed the tree. He wasn't trying to see what all the excitement was about. He knew what the excitement was about – Jesus – and he wanted to be part of it. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in Jericho, and one of the three miracles that the preacher talked about did indeed happen as Jesus was going into Jericho.
I've marked two words for you to keep in mind for tomorrow, because tomorrow's paragraph comes immediately after this one, these words – which help tie the stories together in Greek – change to different words in English.
Luke 18:41-43 (my translation)
Luke 19:1-10, "Zacchaeus" (8/27/2009)
[Jesus asked,] "What would you like me to do for you?"
He said, "Lord, that I will anablepso see again!"
Jesus told him, "Anablepso! See again! Your faith has sozo made you well."
And instantly he could anablepso see again, and he followed him, glorifying God. And all the people who saw it praised God.
"Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
And a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in a sycamore tree,
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in that tree.
And he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I'm going to your house today.
I'm going to your house today."
Although I've heard different lyrics, they are all similar. For example, my Baptist husband sings "I'm going to your house for tea," presumably just to make sure there was goin' to be no drinkin'. Here's a video
with the version I learned when my kids were in Sunday School. Here's another version
that I like even better, however, because it ends up with salvation, which is the point of the story.
Imagine the shout that went up when the blind beggar had his sight miraculously restored! Zacchaeus couldn't stand it – he had to see for himself what was happening. As we all know, he climbed the tree to get a better look, and that's where Jesus came to him and invited himself to stay overnight.
When I started looking on the web, I saw these additional lyrics at the end:
Zacchaeus came down from that tree, as happy as he could be,
He gave his money to the poor, and said: "What a better man I'll be."
As a matter of fact, that's the real point of the story, even though I don't remember ever hearing it sung by a real child. Climbing the tree is a colorful incident. Salvation is the point. "Tax collector," as I've said before, had the connotation of "collaborating extortionist." They were not popular among the Jews. Luke takes pains to point out that Zacchaeus was rich, although he does report that Zacchaeus said, "If I cheated anyone..." – not taking it as a foregone conclusion that he had gained his wealth unscrupulously. Notice that first Zacchaeus zeteo
seeks to see Jesus, and then Jesus comments that he himself came to zeteo
seek and save people like Zacchaeus .
It's too bad that yesterday's reading and today's are separated by a chapter break. I love the way they are tied together by the words anablepso
see again/look up and sozo
make well/save. Salvation for Zacchaeus is as much of a miracle as restored sight for the blind beggar.
Luke 19:1-10 (my translation)
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Jesus came into Jericho and was passing though. And, see, there was a man named Zacchaeus, and he was the chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was zeteo seeking to see who Jesus was, but he couldn't because of the crowd, because he was really short. Running ahead, he went up into a sycamore tree so that he might see him, because he was about to pass through.
When Jesus came to the place, he anablepso looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and get down, because I have to stay at your house today!"
He hurried and got down and welcomed him joyfully.
Seeing this, everyone murmured, "He's going to stay overnight with a man who is a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look! Half of everything I own, Lord, I am giving to the poor. And if I extorted anything from anyone, I am giving it back fourfold."
Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has happened in this home, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to zeteo seek and to sozo save the lost."
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