In this week’s study we examine the last words and actions of Jesus before he enters Jerusalem for the final time. This is the close of Phase 5c. Like Zacchaeus, we would be blessed if in our desire to accept God’s grace through Christ and follow him we were ready to make amends and do well. Similarly we would do well to heed the warning in Jesus’ parable – choosing to honor his reign rather than rebel or resist.


Audio: Coming Soon


Section 127a | Salvation of Zacchaeus

Jericho
Luke 19:1-10
He entered and was passing through Jericho.1 There was a man named Zacchaeus2. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn’t because of the crowd, because he was short. He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, “He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner.”4 Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” Jesus said to him,“Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Section 127b | Parable to Teach Responsibility while the Kingdom is Delayed

Jericho and on toward Jerusalem
Luke 19:11-28
11 As they5 heard these things, he went on and told a parable,6 because he was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that God’s Kingdom would be revealed immediately.7 12 He said therefore, “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.8 13 He called ten servants9 of his and gave them ten mina coins,10 and told them, ‘Conduct business until I come.’11 14 But his citizens hated him,12 and sent an envoy after him, saying, ‘We don’t want this man to reign over us.’ 15 “When he had come back again, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by conducting business. 16 The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina13 has made ten more minas.’ 17 “He said to him, ‘Well done, you good servant! Because you were found faithful with very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ 18 “The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, Lord, has made five minas.’ 19 “So he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 Another came, saying, ‘Lord, behold, your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief, 21 for I feared you, because you are an exacting man. You take up that which you didn’t lay down, and reap that which you didn’t sow.’ 22 “He said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant! You knew that I am an exacting man, taking up that which I didn’t lay down, and reaping that which I didn’t sow. 23 Then why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank, and at my coming, I might have earned interest on it?’ 24 He said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to him who has the ten minas.’ 25 “They said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ 26 ‘For I tell you that to everyone who has, will more be given14; but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away from him.15 27 But bring those enemies of mine who didn’t want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me.’ ” 28 Having said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.


Group Dialog:

  1. Where do people in your community turn for help, change or transformation?
  2. How might the salvation Zacchaeus have surprised those who knew him and those who first heard the story?
  3. What hope does today’s story offer you and those you love?
  4. In your own life, how have you felt/experienced Jesus seeking or reaching out to you?
  5. What are some ways Jesus presence, teaching and love has changed you?
  6. Welcoming Zacchaeus as a disciple, Jesus pin-pointed the issue that would catapult his faith. Why is that important among the people you are discipling?
  7. What has been given to you and how are you putting that to use for the Kingdom of God?

Learning Objectives: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. His sacrifice onward in Jerusalem saved believers and disciples then and now.  No one is too small, insignificant, mighty, poor, or too great a sinner to be saved. Jesus calls us all to repent from our sins, revere his sacrifice, and honor him accepting his forgiveness of sins, to a life of service, and eternal life.


Notes:

  1. This is 15-17 miles east of Jerusalem, a days walk.
  2. This passage offers some simple facts about Zacchaeus, and from other historical sources we know that he was: 1) a Jewish man given a Greek name (pronounced za-ke’-us) originally Heb. zakkay, meaning pure, 2) a rich tax collector like Matthew (Mt 9:9, §47a in phase 3) working as an employee of the Roman Empire overseeing the customs charges on the trade routes through Jericho (a key producer of balsam) and levying taxes on those who lived there. 3) shorter than the average Jewish person in Jesus’ time (he was under 5’6″ tall), 4) a repentant sinner.
  3. During the Roman Empire, Palestinian officials had the direct responsibility for collecting regular taxes (poll taxes & land taxes), but the taxes on transported goods were outsourced to private contractors. These tax collectors “paid a stipulated sum in advance for the right to collect the tolls in a certain locality, and then tried to make a profit on the transaction” (Buttrick, 522).1 Roman taxes were seen as excessive and embezzlement by these tax collectors as inevitable, so they were repeatedly likened to robbers and thieves (so much so that lying to a tax collector was akin to deceiving bandits to avoid loss). However, it was the political Jewish climate that created the true hostility toward these small businessmen. Many Israelites saw Rome as a military dictator oppressing the land. Some even saw “any act of submission to Caesar – such as paying taxes – [as] treason to God” (Buttrick 522). Thus, Jewish tax-collectors, such as Levi (Matthew) and Zachaeus were seen as traitors who had sold their souls to aid a foreign occupier oppress their own people. They were forbidden to serve as judges or witnesses in trial or even to participate in the synagogue (Howell, 72). It is in this light that Jesus calls these flagrant traitor-sinners to redemption, not tolerating or accepting their activities, but turning them away from their deception and fraud to a better life. Buttrick, George Arthur. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: R-Z. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 1962. Howell Jr., Don N.. The Passion of the Servant. Eugene: Wipf & Stock – Resource Publications. 2009.
  4. It’s quite possible that some of these folks are among those who later called out “Crucify him”. And even more though provoking is that in his incarnation, Jesus came into the world choosing to be among and die for sinners.
  5. They is most likely Jesus, the Apostles, many disciples, and members of the crowd which followed him from Jericho (§126: Mt 20:29; Mk 10:46; Lk 18:36-37).
  6. Most scholars don’t consider Matthew’s parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30, §139f) and this parable recorded by Luke (Luke 19:11-27) to be parallels. Though some assert that the Matthew and Luke both drew from the original work of Q, adapting the story to address the concerns of their intended readers, the story lines, location, timeline, context, audience, details and theological emphasis indicate that Jesus simply told another version of the parable days later for another unique audience.  While we agree with this viewpoint, its also important to remember Jesus’ audience in each event is as important a consideration as the original intended readers of the evangelists’. Matthew was probably writing after the destruction of the temple to a church or faith community that was primarily made of converted Jews, Christians who knew well the religious traditions, issues, and Old Testament stories; while Luke, according to his preface, was recording all these things for Theophilus and others (like Zacchaeus) who were seeking to know Jesus, know the truth, and receive life abundant and eternal. The “Q Source” refers to the German word “Quelle”, which actually translated into English means “source.” Scholars often refer to it simply as “Q” (if they are English scholars that could confuse them with the James Bond series). Q is hypothetical. It refers to an unknown, and undiscovered body of “Jesus material” that could explain how Matthew and Mark have stories of Jesus that can be nearly identical. It is decidedly not a theory that is accepted carte blanche by biblical scholars. These become very evident while doing a Harmony of the Gospel study, making this short introduction relevant. There are pros and cons to whether or not there was such a body of perhaps verbal tradition, yet probably unwritten, stories. Certainly, one of the realities leading up to such a hypothesis is in the internal evidence of the existing 4 Gospels, where, for instance, after Jesus taught or performed miracles, the people who observed and witnessed such would go away talking about what they had seen and heard. What happened to those recollections is the curiosity. Luke also makes the point of doing research to get the story right. As well, there are several problems with the hypothesis of a congealed, perhaps written “first source” of a gospel, including not being referenced to by any of the early church fathers, most notably Jerome, and nothing having been found in existence despite all that has been found. The heat of the academic battle probably took place in the 1940s and 1950s. The highly respected Austin Farrer wrote a paper in 1955 which included his argument against a developed quotable Q source (which came to be known as the Farrer argument). Among other arguments, he noted that when we find two documents that contain common material, identical in the words and phrases they use to describe some scenes, the simplest explanation is that one of the two used the other as a source, rather than both using a third document as a source. (This last sentence is a summary produced and published in a Wikipedia article). Otherwise see, Austin M. Farrer, “On Dispensing with Q” in D. E. Nineham (ed.), Studies in the Gospels: Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot (Oxford: Blackwell, 1955), pp. 55–88, reproduced at http://ntgateway.com/Q/Farrer.htm.
  7. The disciples having heard all of Jesus teachings knew that he was to die in Jerusalem, but still remained confounded that somehow his arrival would cause the Kingdom to “appear” Greek anaphaino, “cause to light up, cause to appear,”.
  8. Jesus tells this parable a day or so before his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem (Lk 19:38). He is well aware, and has been, that he will be the pascal sacrifice, rejected by his people, and his coming crucifixion. This makes it easy then for us to understand that Jesus is the nobleman in the parable, and the crowds who will be shouting “Crucify him!” (Lk 23:21) are the people in the parable who oppose the nobleman’s forthcoming coronation.
  9. This is another of the differences between the parable in Matthew and Luke. Though both address the three servants who returned to give an accounting of their work, Luke says ‘ten’ slaves were summoned while Matthew’s parable mentions only three (Mt 25:15).
  10. Here’s another of the differences, in Matthews parable the three servants were provided different amounts – five, two and one talent respectively. The term “mina,” comes from the Greek “mna,” a Greek monetary unit equal to “100 drachmas” which would have been worth two to three months worth of wages. One mina was equivalent to 100 denarii, about 100 days’ wages for the common worker in Jesus’ day. See Coins Mentioned in the New Testament.  Remember, that within about six days Judas will betray Jesus for “30 pieces of silver” (denarius) something equivalent to about 5 weeks income of a skilled worker in Jesus’ day, or roughly equivalent to an ‘average American’ accepting a payment of about $4,200USD.
  11. Clearly we need to understand that as citizens of God’s kingdom we are to further God’s goals and purposes, neither denying our responsibilities, gifts or talents, nor obstructing others who serve the King by maleficent word or deed.
  12. Jesus’ enemies included: the Pharisees, the scribes, the chief priest’s family, and members of the Sanhedrin – and all those other citizens who were not “with him”(Mt 12:30, §61).
  13. Investing is a risky business, not for the faint of heart, even when you’re investing someone else’s wealth. As servants invested the Nobleman’s money, we are to invest the spiritual gifts bestowed to us and our very lives for the sake of the Kingdom. While wise investments call for some discernment, the reality is that the end result is out of ‘our’ direct control – but there is comfort knowing that the Lord who is sovereign and gracious in our lives is also at work in the lives of those to whom we minister.
  14. As one day they will be given the Holy Spirit: Luke 24:45-50, Acts 1:8.
  15. Cr: 1 Cor 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10.