Tuesday 16 November 2010

Bible Book:

"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." (vv. 9-10)

Luke 19:1-10 Tuesday 16 November 2010


Here is another familiar story where our familiarity may stop usnoticing again how extraordinary Jesus is, and how he brings outthe very best in people.

We may have views of tax collectors today, but they would be verymild compared to the time of this story. They were largelyself-employed in that they gathered taxes on behalf of the Romansand took a percentage of that tax as their pay. This wasn'tdishonest as such but it did mean that they could abuse theirpower. Zacchaeus might have been such a man, but that isn't clear.He was however, rich, and presumably, this was because he was bothgood at his job, and liberal in his percentages. Being a rich taxcollector is not going to make you popular, and yet that wasn't hismain problem. His real issue was that he was working for theRomans. He was a traitor and, worse still, by handling Roman moneyhe was putting himself outside his own community because theirmoney was tainted with an image of a Roman deity - Caesarhimself.

Jesus self-invitation to tea was therefore controversial in a waythat would be hard for us to imagine. It put Jesus himself into thecategory of the ritually unclean, it made him vulnerable to theaccusation of 'mixing with the wrong sort', and by association atraitor as well. This brave acceptance of another's hospitalityallowed Zacchaeus to review his life, to give away much of hiswealth and check back through his books for where he has crossedthe boundary between honest percentages and dishonest exploitation.This was a good start, but interestingly not the whole way to beacceptable in the eyes of the Jewish community. He doesn't hand inhis Roman franchise for tax collecting, and yet Jesus still saysthe unthinkable, "he too is a son of Abraham". Jesus declares thatfar from being outside the community because of being a traitor andritually unclean, Zacchaeus, by virtue of his generosity andwillingness to behave honestly, is indeed still a member.

To Ponder

Where does this story resonate with your own lifeexperience now?

Why does it matter to you that Jesus does notinsist on a full 'turn around' from Zacchaeus?

In Prisons Week, is there anyone we from whom wewould find it difficult to accept hospitality?

And Pray
Teach me to be a generous giver of my wealth and a graciousreceiver of others' kindness.

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