When we read Holy Scripture each and every word is there for purpose! God didn't reveal truth casually, His words mean something.
Rule #1: Words Mean Things
Rule #2: God's word is truth.
Rule #3: God's Truth is revealed in Words because words mean things.
Conclusion: Always seek why God included any word!
That's my study method. Mere reading reveals much less. All scripture is all about Jesus and the reason to read is to find out what things mean about Jesus.
A recent President used the excuse "It depends on what the definition of 'is' is."
Let's start there because IS is important. Why is it important what "is" is?
Exodus 3:14 "God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. "
am "present tense first person singular of be."
is "present tense third person of be"
be "identifies a person"
God calls himself I AM. We say he IS and that identifies his existence. In other words IS is a state of existence. It's always present tense, so that whoever exists whenever that's claimed is always real!
What is God's name? He is without name because he just IS! JHVH is the Hebrew letters called the tetragrammaton which expressed God's eternal existence. He doesn't need a name because he is the One WHO ALWAYS IS! GOD is NOT his name. We CALL him Emmanuel and Jesus for our benefit!
Now for more. Let's study today's lesson with the value of words in mind:
Luke 19:1 "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho."
What about Jericho? Any significance?
- The city of Palm trees. God showed Moses the land as far as Jericho from Nebo. (Deuteronomy 34:1-3).
- the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho (that's where Canaan was given to the Hebrews). (Numbers 33:50)
- Jericho was in early times the city of false gods and pagan worship.
- Under Joshua God destroyed Jericho by making it's walls fall down as they carried the Ark of the Covenant around it for seven days.
- Became a great city again, but was the city which had the most priests and Levites. (i.e., just as the world had been destroyed under Noah and created anew, Jericho had a new birth.) With all those do-gooder Levites there, it was a place of regulations and scrutiny. Big Brother was alive and well there!
2 "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich."
What do we know about Zacchaeus?
- Name means pure or innocent
- He was rich.
- He not only a publican, but was chief publican.
- He was short. More on that shortly!
What is a publican?
- Public contractors who did three things: supplied the Roman Legions, collected duties and taxes, and oversaw building projects.
- They were usually equites (knights) (inherited positions)
- They bid on tax debts and collected taxes to make a profit. As such they raised more money than the taxes required and kept the remainder for themselves! That's called "farming". The crop is cash!
Why then did the Hebrews despise the publicans?
Why was it important that Zacchaeus was a high up publican? (They were usually the chief sinners and were hated!)
3 "And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature."
Why is it important that Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus? (He knew that Jesus was important!)
He was a short man. What type of behavior do most short people exhibit?
Napoleon Complex: "theorized condition occurring in people of short stature. It is characterized by overly-aggressive or domineering social behavior, and carries the implication that such behaviour is compensatory for the subject's stature. The term is also used more generally to describe people who are driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives." (Wikipedia)
What type of thought is this? UNFAIR! It's called a stereotype! Are all short people domineering?
4 "And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way."
Zacchaeus actually ran ahead to see Jesus! What would you think if you saw a rich man climbing a tree to see him? (Well to do Mexican in Mexico City sitting in a trash can when it was cold).
Is the sycamore tree of any significance? (It's the city of Palm Trees) Not like our sycamore, but like a fig tree with mulberry leaves. The fruit is inferior, but to the Egyptians guess what this tree was called? THE TREE OF LIFE.
5 "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house."What went through the minds of the people at this point?
What did Jesus know about Zacchaeus? Everything!
We've discussed the stereotype the people saw. What did Jesus see in him? (His true self. His heart. His meekness.)
6 "And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully."
From this verse what feelings do you suppose Zacchaeus had for Jesus? (awe, belief and joy)
Who's important to you? How would you feel then? (When Ronald Reagan came what if he had called me forth!)
7 "And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner."
Why did they call Zacchaeus "a sinner"? 1) We all are. 2) They considered themselves to be righteous and thus this man with the sin of usury was not! What did they do to him? Stereotype him! Could there be another reason he was called "a sinner"? (PARABLE BELOW).
When the people saw this what did they do?(murmured: gossiped).
What did they gossip about? Jesus was going to stay with a sinner!
Whose integrity were they questioning? Jesus's.
Why was Zacchaeus picked out as a sinner? (He was stereotyped because he was a publican).
Weren't they all sinners? (Yes, but they judged harshly and unfairly. They condemned Zacchaeus. Because of his occupation they profiled him!)
Was there any other reasons that Zacchaeus may have been labeled "a sinner"? SEE PARABLE BELOW
The publican in the parable right before this incident called himself "a sinner"! What do you suppose passed through the minds of the people? (Indeed this man is the sinner in the parable.)
Did they get the point in the parable? (No. The message that they got was that publicans are sinners!)
8 "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold."
Was Zacchaeus a sinner? Had he made money off unfortunate people? Did Zacchaeus realize that he was a sinner? Do you think that Zacchaeus was the one from the parable? Was he willing to make restitution? What is restitution? Is it important?
9 "And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham."
What was Jesus' response to Zacchaeus? (He saved him!) Why is Abraham of significance? (The covenant with Abraham is that his seed would be blessed).
10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Before this was Zacchaeus lost? (He was taught the scriptures well we find from secular writings, but he had never to that time accepted what he knew!)
What happened to Zacchaeus? Did he just become history and this is a history lesson?
Is there anything further known about Zacchaeus which may be important?
Acts 1:23 " And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
What does Matthias have to do with Zacchaeus? He IS Zacchaeus Matthias!
St. Clement of Alexandria, in his writings in the Stromata, points this out. "So Zacchaeus, whom they call Matthias, the chief tax collector, when he had heard that the Lord had esteemed him highly enough to be with Him, said, 'Behold, half of my present possessions I give as alms, and Lord, if I ever extorted money from anyone in any way, I return it fourfold.' At this, the Saviour said, 'When the Son of Man came today, he found that which was lost'" (Stromata 126.96.36.199) from ("The Overlooked Holy Apostle, Matthias;" August 9/22)
He became a bishop to cannibals in Ethiopia where he was imprisoned to be eaten, but freed by divine Providence. When he returned to Galilee he was stoned to death at the orders of Annas, the chief priest.
Words mean things! Zacchaeus was written about for a reason! After the ascension of Jesus the Holy Ghost of Jesus came into him and he became an apostle because he had seen Jesus face to face!
Thereafter Jesus spoke a parable.
11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
Who do you suppose this parable was about? Zacchaeus and the religious leaders.
PARABLE OF THE PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN:
"He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.