Yesterday we talked about the myths of Evangelism that create so much baggage in our lives. Today we’re going dive into the text.
Taking a look at Zacchaeus
So, as we dive into this loaded topic of Evangelism, let’s take a look at our text for the day. It comes from Luke 19:1-10:
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Zacchaeus: The kid who sat alone at lunch.
To understand what is happening here, we need to take a look at a few background details.
First: Zacchaeus. This passage mentions that Zacchaeus was a “chief tax collector.” That means that he stands on top of the pyramid of tax collecting. The common practice of the times was there was an over-arching tax of Rome. And as with any political system, Rome wanted their money. To ensure they got every dime they felt they deserved, the government would hire people to go out, and collect the money from each citizen of the Roman empire. The collectors knew people couldn’t say “No” so they would charge a little (or a lot) on top of the established tax. As with most things, the political structure of the day was hierarchical. There were levels of workers, and managers. Each level wanted their own cut, and so the ones below them had to take that into account when showing the final “tax sum.” So, you see how the tax amount would pile up, and how that would make for a grumpy citizen.
Our guy, Zaccheaus, was the one on top. He was the 1% that the other 99% hated. He was deeply embedded in the corruption of the system of the day. He was so completely corrupt that people in his position were often times called robbers, thieves or murders.
Jesus: An Ordinary Day
Into this world walks Jesus. He’s on his way to Jerusalem, and ultimately, on his way to die in redemption of all of creation on a cross. This wasn’t Jesus’ final destination. This wasn’t a special day. This was not something marked on his calendar or set to beep on a phone 15 minutes before the event starts.
Jesus walks in to the world of the ordinary, filled with people living their ordinary life. While we read this we can know that Jesus was just in the rhythm of his normal existence.
Tomorrow we’re going to talk about inciting incidents, and look at how that relates to Zacchaeus, Jesus and Evangelism. Thanks for participating!