Twenty-First Sunday in Pentecost
October 30, 2022
First Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-4 ,2:1-4
Psalm 119: 137-144
Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
“The Son of Man came to seek out and save the lost”
Jesus enters and is passing through Jericho. This passage is a subtle reminder that Jesus is nearing the end of his journey to Jerusalem.
Jericho, a wealthy city and because of its location, a strategic position next to the road to Jerusalem and near a Jordan River crossing was an important commerce center.
They exported date palms and balsam.
“Zacchaeus, was a chief tax collector…and a very rich supervisor of tax collectors.
The tax collectors contracted with Romans to collect taxes in a particular town or region.
They are prone to abuse the system, and if citizens rebel, Roman soldiers stand by to back the tax collector.
Zacchaeus’s neighbors despised him for sharing in the Roman domination and he risks ridicule and perhaps violence out among the crowds. Therefore, he climbed the sycamore tree.
As Jesus enters Jericho,
” Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus, because of the crowd he could not see him, because he was short in stature. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass by that way.”
Trying to see Jesus, we can compare to the blind man in chapter 18, He wants desperately to see and like the blind man, he is limited physically, so that he is unable to see.
When I read this, I pictured a small man, like a hobbit 😊, running in and out of the crowd, trying to get to a place so he could see, Jesus.
What does he do? He climbs a tree. I do not know about you, but if I was short, there is no way I could climb a tree. The story of Zacchaeus also reminded me, of a Sunday school song.
“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 when the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree
And said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I am going to your house today!
For I am going to your house today!
Jesus looks up and sees him, he invites Zacchaeus down from the tree…he tells him to hurry down; for I must stay at your house today.”
Oh, he is so happy, he hurries down to welcome him. Everyone who witness this started to grumble, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
No one realizes that Zacchaeus was over joyed, to have Jesus in his home.
Just as Zacchaeus exposed himself to ridicule by climbing a tree, So Jesus exposes himself to criticism by vising Zacchaeus house. Usually, it is the Pharisees that grumble, but this time it is everyone…they know who he is, he is the tax collector, he probably over taxes them, just to make himself wealthier. And they do not want Jesus to honor a man whom they regard as their enemy.
“He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus, stands there in front of Jesus, the one who the crowds follow everywhere.
I am sure he has heard how Jesus has performed many miracles. In todays standards Jesus is famous. He was so surprised that Jesus saw him.
“Zacchaeus 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.”
Just being in the presence of Jesus has transformed Zacchaeus, he offers up half of his possessions to the poor and generous offer to anyone he may have cheated and he will give back four times as much as he took.
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
In Chapter 17: 20-21 The coming of the kingdom of God… is not a kingdom that brings material and political benefit, “But” to observe the presence of the kingdom in his ministry.
“The Kingdom of God, is Jesus’ ministry!
SO, Zacchaeus has been transformed in the power and grace of Jesus, just by being in His presence. And Jesus says, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.”
If you all could go back and read Luke chapter 15, Jesus dealt at length in his parables with lost things, lost sheep, lost coins, and lost sons. When they were all found, there was great rejoicing.
Jesus’ central mission was not to come save those whom were already saved, but to seek and save the lost.
The word “seek” implies that Jesus takes that step to seek out those who are lost, just as the shepherd took the step to find his lost sheep.
We can be sure that, when Zacchaeus was climbing a tree to see Jesus, Jesus was seeking to see Zacchaeus, so that he might save him.
This effort befits the entire community, because he gives money to the poor and restitution to those whom he defrauded.
Zacchaeus, just being with Jesus, is repenting for his sins, by giving back to the poor and those who he might have over taxed. Therefore, Jesus is saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.
Who are the lost in our world today? How are we as individuals and as the church called to take part in this ministry” As “sons and daughters of Abraham” all can be restored to the community and are entitled to inherit all God’s blessings.