Bible Study Ideas And Commentary For Luke 1: 1
In this, the final turning point in Luke’s Gospel, we discover exactly what Jesus’ mission on earth is — to seek and to save the lost. And we see it demonstrated beautifully in the life of a very extreme candidate, a hated chief tax collector.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
The Story Of Zacchaeus In The Bible
As a chief tax collector for the vicinity of Jericho, Zacchaeus, a Jew, was an employee of the Roman Empire. Under the Roman system, men bid on those positions, pledging to raise a certain amount of money. Anything they raised over that amount was their personal profit. Luke says Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, so he must have extorted a great deal from the people and encouraged his subordinates to do so as well.
Jesus was passing through Jericho one day, but because Zacchaeus was a man of short stature, he could not see over the crowd. He ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view. To his surprise and delight, Jesus stopped, looked up, and said, “Zacchaeus! Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today” .
The crowd, however, muttered that Jesus would be socializing with a sinner. Jews hated tax collectors because they were dishonest tools of the oppressive Roman government. The self-righteous people in the crowd were especially critical of Jesus interest in a man like Zacchaeus, but Christ was demonstrating his mission to seek and save the lost.
At Jesus’ call to him, Zacchaeus promised to give half his money to the poor and repay fourfold anyone he had cheated. Jesus told Zacchaeus that salvation would come to his house that day.
At the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus told the parable of the ten servants.
Three Reasons To Associate With Zacchaeus:
His eagerness for the gospel. He desperately needed some good news in his life! He wanted to experience Jesus.
His readiness for a new life. He was clearly ready for a change. Despite his outward appearance, he yearned for something new and better than what he was experiencing.
His repentance genuine change!! He embraced a new life a life of integrity and grace. He was a new man after spending time with Jesus and he demonstrated that change in a profound and tangible way.
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A Refresher On Zacchaeus
Like I said, Zacchaeuss story may be new to you, or maybe youre just a little fuzzy on the details, so here it is from Luke 19:110:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.
Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
A little context about Zacchaeuss job is helpful here. Based on the crowds muttering under their breath, we can see that being a tax collector was basically the equivalent of being an unrepentant professional sinner as Zacchaeus cheated others to make himself rich.
More From This Lesson: Luke 19 The Story Of Zacchaeus
This Sunday School lesson from Sharefaith Kids centers on a corrupt tax collector named Zacchaeus. After climbing a sycamore tree, Zacchaeus accepts a dinner invitation from Jesus. Their conversation at dinner leads to a profound change of heart in Zacchaeus. The repentant tax collector promises to give back half his money to the poor and repay, fourfold, all he had stolen.
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Joseph And His Brothers
There are sides to every story, and Josephs is no exception. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. One day, Joseph was sent on an errand to bring supplies to his brothers. Because of jealousy, Josephs brothers took advantage of the chance to get rid of Joseph.
A group of slave traders buys Joseph and sends him to Egypt. Josephs brothers spread lambs blood all over Josephs robe to make Jacob believe that a wild animal killed his son. Jacob grieved Joseph for an extended period. It prompted his brothers to tell Jacob the truth.
Despite all the hardships, Joseph forgives his brothers and welcomes his family to Egypt to avoid the famine. Josephs story teaches us about the importance of integrity. Despite the hardships he experienced, Joseph always remained steadfast in his faith.
Lessons From Zacchaeus About Leaving The Past Behind
The Bible tells us about the story of a man named Zacchaeus reaching out to Jesus, but one thing that we often miss is that the story is not much about a rich tax collector looking out for Jesus, but about Jesus reaching out to Zacchaeus.
We all know how the story goes in Luke 19:1-10: A short and wealthy man named Zacchaeus climbs up a sycamore tree to see the Man everyone was saying is the Christ. But it would surprise many that the story doesn’t really end there.
This comes to show the inadequate view of Christianity that so many people have, thinking that it’s about a religion where people do their best to achieve communion with a holy and powerful God. But Christianity is so much more about a holy and powerful God using relationship to achieve communion with a broken people. Here are three lessons from the story of Zacchaeus that point us to a God who reaches out to us.
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Jesus Called Zacchaeus Down
Sure Zacchaeus went up a tree to see Jesus, but we don’t really know why he did it. It could have been simply because He wanted to see a “celebrity,” but not really to experience the transformational love of God. While Zacchaeus went out of His way to see Jesus, Jesus went out of His way to build a relationship with the tax collector too. Jesus must have had a hundred things to do, but He decided to let that go to get to know this man.
It’s the same with us. We can search for Jesus all we want, but truth is we will never be searching for Him longer than He’s been searching for us.
Two Reasons Not To Associate With Zacchaeus:
His appearance. He was not a dominating physical presence. There was nothing in the appearance of the man to draw you to him.
His occupation . He was viewed by his countrymen as a traitor. He consented to work with the Roman occupation and extort money from his neighbors to pay taxes and finance an opulent lifestyle!
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The Story Of Zacchaeus
The story of Zacchaeus is one of the most well known stories in the gospels. But when you read it there is a strange information distribution. Now, whatâs information distribution? One of the helpful things that you can do when youâre trying to understand a story, especially a well-known one, is look at how much information is devoted to each major section or event or character in the story. The purpose of doing this is to see what the author actually focuses on, what he wants us to pay attention to. Because if itâs a very well-known story our attention naturally gravitates toward the parts that are popular. So letâs look at the information distribution in our story.
The story is short, it takes less than a minute to read, so letâs read the whole thing:
The story consists of 10 verses. Seven of the verses happen outside with the crowd with Zacchaeus running up in a tree and coming down and the crowd grumbling. Only three verses is the conversation between Jesus and Zacchaeus, you could say the moral of the story. So we have a strange amount of attention on Zacchaeusâ action and the tree. I mean, why have all the stuff about the tree anyways couldnât we just have the conversation in the house, Zacchaeus telling Jesus that heâll give away a bunch of his stuff and Jesus saying that salvation has come here?
Luke opens the story like this:
âHe entered Jericho and was passing through.â
Zacchaeus: From The Perspective Of Zacchaeus Himself
Zacchaeus knew about Jesus the whole time and was excited to finally see him. Because he was very short, he tried to find other ways in order to finally see Jesus. He did this by climbing a sycamore tree.
Based on this story, we can easily see Zacchaeus character. He was a go-getter and possibly one of the characteristics and attitudes a tax collector should have because their job entailed asking and, sometimes, taking money from others.
Additionally, we can see that Zacchaeus was trying to find meaning in his life through Jesus. He was eager to know the truth about life.
Being a tax collector was not an easy job for him because of the nature of his business and because of how the crowd perceived him and for this reason, he climbed the tree to see Jesus and find the meaning in life.
When Jesus told Zacchaeus that He was to stay at his house, Zacchaeus became very happy and opened his doors right away. This is also an attitude that tells us that Zacchaeus was a man ready to be saved and to serve. He opened his doors for Christ and was willing to listen to His advice.
We can reflect a lot on the perspective of Zacchaeus. In this busy world full of noise in every area of life, we tend to want to find meaning in our lives to fill in the gap that we are experiencing. We try to climb trees to extend our eyes reach of a quieter yet better tomorrow.
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Naboth And His Vineyard
King Ahabs palace in Jezreel had a vineyard beside it that belonged to Naboth. Because of this, the king asked to purchase Naboths vineyard to grow vegetables. Naboth was adamant in his refusal. The king opened up to Queen Jezebel regarding Naboths refusal. To give the king what he wanted, Queen Jezebel convinced others to lie about Naboth and say Naboth talked ill about God.
Because of outrage, Naboth was stoned to death. The king proceeded to claim the vineyard of Naboth. He met the prophet Elijah on his way there. Elijah told him that God said Ahab and his family would suffer for what happened to Naboth. Elijah said it would be the downfall of Ahabs family. After that, the king repented and surrendered himself to God.
Naboths story shows us that God is always watching us. He knows when we are truthful and genuine in what we do. He also knows when we do evil things.
Encourage Us To Obey And Speak The Truth
Bible stories teach us about obedience. Obedience is one of several ways we can praise and glorify God. When we follow Gods commands in all aspects of our lives, we show love and respect for Him. We should be obedient to get closer to Him and develop our relationship with Him. Obedience is essential to a Christians relationship with God.
Additionally, obedience leads to personal development. It is not just for Gods glory that we obey the commands He gives to us. The invitation to obedience is for our benefit. In His wisdom, He knows what we need and how to help us become better people and disciples of God.
Furthermore, the Bible is also full of stories regarding honesty. Honesty is a character trait that demonstrates ones reliability. Our honesty and openness establish our reputation and trustworthiness. We are also able to help others in the process. When we can be trusted, we can build meaningful relationships with others. We must also recognize that an honest person is a devotee of the Truth. This passion for the truth aids in developing a persons mind.
A discerning reason and wisdom can distinguish between right from wrong. It is also able to reject what is wrong. Honesty protects us so we can avoid delusion and deception. When we live in the truth, we can speak of the truth.
Lesson : Will You Break Social Norms To See Jesus
In that culture, it was not proper for an adult man to run. You may have learned this in the story of The Prodigal Son where the fathers act of running to his son was an outrageous display of love. The reason for this is because in order for a man to run, he would have to tie up his long tunic, and show his legs. This was both humiliating and shameful in that culture for a grown man.
Now not only did Zacchaeus run, he even climbed a tree! I can only imagine that if running was looked down upon, that climbing a tree would be as well, and maybe even more so!
In light of this, how can you be more like Zacchaeus to break social norms to see Jesus? Im not talking about being disrespectful, but I am talking about doing something a little extreme or bold for God. I read online that a social norm in our culture today is not sitting right next to a stranger in a movie theater when there are plenty of other seats. While this example is amusing, I think its very fitting! Sometimes we need to break the status quo to meet God.
If you go with the crowd, you will get what the crowd gets.
If you want something special and extraordinary, you must do what the ordinary wont do. Another way to think of this with Zacchaeus is that while the whole crowd was rushing horizontally to see Jesus, Zacchaeus went vertical and climbed a tree.
The Bible is full of audacious and extraordinary stories like these. The question is, will you step out or be content with the crowd?
What Is The Story Of Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus the publican
Zacchaeus, was a Jew, detested by his countrymen. His position and riches were the reward of a work they hated, and carried out by injustice and extortion. Among the publicans, there was a confederacy, so that they could oppress the people, and sustain one another in their fraudulent practices.
The publicans openly disregarded Gods instruction in Leviticus. This instructions stated, If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit . Yet, the rich customs officer was not completely the heartless man of the world that he seemed. Under the guise of worldliness, there was a heart sensitive to God.
His encounter with Jesus
Zacchaeus had probably heard of Jesus and he yearned for a better life. John the Baptist had preached at the Jordan, and Zacchaeus probably had heard of the call to repentance. Johns instruction to the publicans taught, Exact no more than that which is appointed you . Though outwardly ignored, this instruction had touched the publicans heart and he realized that he was a sinner before God.
In His service,
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Not Being Able To See Or Reach Your Goal
We’ve all been here, if not for ourselves then for the short person or child with us. You’ve gone to the parade or the festival or the opening or whatever, and you get completely swallowed up by the crowd and can’t see a thing. Sometimes, there are nice people around you who notice you and let you move up front so you can see. A lot of times, you’re on your own. What memories do you have of being blocked by a crowd?
Now let’s take it up a notch. How many of you are Black Friday shoppers? Or how many of you like to go to Grand Openings or product releases? People will literally grab things from right over you or just push you out of the way. I don’t need to tell you how dangerous those scenarios can turn out to be. Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re an autograph hunter. If the celebrity isn’t really paying attention, the person with the longest arms seems to always get the autograph.
Getting a cheap television or an autograph might not be that important in the scheme of things, but these situations play out in refugee camps, shelters, and other very serious settings. A larger person will absolutely push a smaller person out of the way in order to get food, clothing, medicine, whatever, unless someone is there to keep order.
What is the most important thing you’ve ever stood in a crowd for? How did it go? Did you eventually get what you were waiting for?