“Analysis of Luke chapter 19 verses 1-10, The Story of Zacchaeus,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
My dear Christians and non-Christians, and you of all faiths and thoughts and all views and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and do not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, political code words, and hype can join in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in the world of confusion and to come with me in tearing apart he curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, I undertake the daunting challenge of seeking to comprehend and understand from my limited mortal and human perspective once again the words and thoughts of the eternal son of god who is and always will be the savior and redeemer of all humanity. I do this with a great sense of humility and am acutely aware of the great honor and privilege of coming to know and grasp and interpret the words of the son of god as he speaks to us from his holy word and from the mansions and precincts of heaven in the company of all the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven and in the presence of the full communion of the holy trinity with all the saints past, present, and to come. Here is the full gospel passage from the Gospel of Luke chapter 19 vv. 1-10: “He entered Jericho and was passing through and there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and rich and he sought to see who Jesus was but could not on account of the crowd and because he was of small stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree to see him for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus make haste and come down or I must stay at your house.’ So he made haste and came down and received him joyfully And when they saw it they all murmured ‘he has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the lord ‘Behold lord the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone of anything I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him ‘Today salvation has come to this house since he also is a son of Abraham. For the son of man came to seek and save what is lost.’”
What are to make of the many layers of meaning presented in the words of Jesus in this passage? First, it is clear that this man called Zacchaeus is referred to as a sinner and is a hated agent of the Roman government a tax collector yet we are told that he has great anxiety to see Jesus which is so overwhelming and great that he climbs a tree to see him pass. Thus at the outset we have a non-Jew a sinner who in his sinful status recognized Jesus’s divinity and the truth of this message and person and then Jesus asks this non-Jew. outside of the pale a sinner and hated tax collector. that he Jesus may come to his house and stay there and so this sinner and outcast came down and received Jesus with great joy. And then perhaps the Pharisees and certainly some elements of the crowd whispered and spoke in low tones criticism that Jesus is the guest of a sinner, the Samaritan or Arab. We do not know and are not told of this man’s background other than he is a sinner. Jesus concludes that he has to save the lost and Zacchaeus says he has done work of charity in giving goods to the poor and has restored fourfold any fraud.
The key to understanding this passage is that Jesus is extending this message and gospel to nations. He is making and creating a new universal religion beyond the narrow confines of the Jewish community. He makes his point clear and going to the house of this outcast and perhaps feasting with him. Jesus is subject to criticism for this radical action and we are told of this man’s great love and charity he has given to others and Jesus concludes this man has gained salvation. Again we must understand what the message and work and gift of salvation is for and Jesus looks at the work and the heart of the man not at his social status or his race or ethnicity. This is another example of how Jesus has inaugurated a new faith beyond technical Jewish law and ritual regulations. This is a tax collector who responds to god’s call. The whispers against Jesus were that he was crossing the boundaries between the clean and unclean and perhaps this term ‘sinner’ here was meant to refer to one in violation of the ritual law although Zacchaeus justifies himself to Jesus by his obedience to the moral law of love and charity and his obedience to the overall commandment to love god and love your neighbor. Zacchaeus seems to be saying he is no longer a sinner and has changed his way by reference to his good moral works or that he never was a sinner. Salvation has come to Zacchaeus in Jesus’s offer to come to his house a and sit with him and Zacchaeus’s acceptance of Jesus has brought him salvation. Jesus concludes with the statement that he has come to save sinners of whatever stripe. Thus we have in this passage Jesus’s start of a new religion beyond rules, race, and even good or bad. He comes to save and offers salvation to all.
Dear friends, I hope I have shed some light, however inadequate, on this gospel story and passage and you may find this posted on my website and social media for your thought and reflection and I urge you not to trust and depend on what I say or interpret but to all return to and reread and read the biblical text.