PENTECOST 23C    October 31, 2010






SCRIPTURE  Luke 19:1-10


-There are a number of parallels between the story of Zacchaeus and the call of Levi (Luke 5:27-32; Mark 2:13-17):

• Both Levi and Zacchaeus are tax collectors. 

• Jesus has dinner with both.   

• The Pharisees criticize Jesus (in the account of Levi) and the crowd grumbles against Jesus (in the account of Zacchaeus).   

• Levi leaves everything to follow Jesus, and Zacchaeus offers to give half his possessions to the poor and to make restitution to anyone whom he has defrauded. 

• The call of Levi concludes with Jesus' words, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."  The encounter with Zacchaeus concludes with Jesus' words, "For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."


-Jesus "entered Jericho and was passing through it" (v. 1).  This is a subtle reminder that Jesus is nearing the end of his journey to Jerusalem and his cross –– a journey that began at 9:51 and will end shortly with his arrival in Jerusalem (19:28 ff.).


-Tax collectors contract with Romans to collect taxes in a particular town or region, and pay a substantial fee for their franchise.  Zacchaeus most likely subcontracts the actual collection of taxes.  His profit is the amount of taxes collected less the franchise fee and salaries of lesser tax collectors.  The system is prone to abuse, rewarding tax collectors for excessive collections.  If citizens rebel, Roman soldiers stand ready to back the tax collector (although a tax collector who provokes excessive rebellion risks losing his franchise).   Jews despise tax collectors as mercenaries and thieves.


-The hospitality we receive from God is the mirror image of the hospitality we should extend to others.  Jesus says to us all, as he said to Zacchaeus, "Come down, come out, wherever you are!


-Throughout the previous chapter Jesus speaks parables and stories are told. All which seem to come to life in the story of Z. First off is the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector. Z is a tax collector. Then there is the account of Jesus welcoming the children. Z acts like a child. Then there is the story of the rich man. Z is rich. Finally there is the story of the blind man who wanted to see. Z wanted to see.  Desperate Preachers


- Zacchaeus must have over charged his victims...otherwise how could he be rich?  Lindy

-In the Roman provinces there were three main kinds of taxes: a produce tax on all the crops and goods produced, a universal poll tax assessed every resident, and a toll or customs tax to be paid as goods were transported from one province to another. To collect this last tax, custom booths were located at the border between provinces on all the major highways and trade routes. the tax collectors would often over-assess the value of goods. Furthermore, Roman law allowed the tax collectors to confiscate and keep goods not declared by the merchant. Here too, the system was ripe for abuse as many tax collectors would improperly seize goods.Rev. Adrian Dieleman


-According to Old Testament law, if a person cheats someone he must make restitution in full and add twenty percent to it (cf Lev 6:5). And, if a person steals from his neighbor he must pay back double as restitution (cf Ex 22:1). According to Roman law, a tax collector who wrongfully confiscated goods had to restore double the value. And, if force was used, a threefold restitution had to be made. Zacchaeus offers to go far beyond the demands of both Old Testament and Roman law; he offers "four times the amount."  The Free Library


-How about  A.A's12-step program?  Step #1: We admitted we were powerless over ___ (food, alcohol, drugs), Step #2) Came to believe that a power higher than ourselves and Step #3) Turned our lives over to God as we understood Him


-“ the kingdom of God is not for sale. But you have to be free to receive the gift. You cannot be otherwise engaged. You cannot be tied up right now, or too tied down to respond…. You cannot follow if you are not free to go" BB Taylor


- This is not the sycamore tree we associated with our country. It was actually a fig tree that had not the best quality of figs, so that mostly poor people ate its fruit. So Zacchaeus climbed a tree associated with poverty, with those in need, for that fitted him. Bass Mitchell


- The problem is not so much that we do not know our own sin but that we do not know grace.  Zacchaeus found (recognized) grace. Lindy


- Zacchaeus was,  short, rich, hated, successful, a changed man, an outcast


-The story of Zacchaeus reminds us of the wideness of God's mercy and encourages us to keep our hearts tender and open to voices of suffering everywhere


-"Justice is sorting out what belongs to whom and returning it to them." Such is Zacchaeus' response to his salvation. Walter Bruggeman


-The publicans were tax collectors and were notorious for overcharging the people. If Rome, for example, levied a 5% tax, the tax collectors could charge 10% or 15%


-"The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

-Scholars are divided about whether Zacchaeus "converted" on the occasion of meeting Jesus or had done so earlier in his career. I side with the scholars who claim Zacchaeus converted earlier and was misjudged by the grumbling Pharisees.  John J.Pilch

We might  point out that God actually does this thing backwards.  With God, forgiveness and acceptance is there before we repent. 


-The "seeker" Zacchaeus, becomes the "sought". While he is trying to see Jesus, apparently Jesus had already seen him. The same word (zeteo) is used of Zacchaeus "seeking" or "trying" to see Jesus (v. 3) and of Jesus "seeking" to save the lost (v. 10). While he is trying to discover who Jesus is, Jesus already knows more about him than he knows himself. Stoffregen


-The incident in today's gospel may well be a God's eye view of each one of us! We are all "little," like Zaccheus, trying to see Jesus from a distance, and often getting ourselves up into trees or into other difficult situations and needing Jesus to come by and call us back down to earth, back down to an honest relationship with him. "When you come down from there, and admit your need," says Jesus, "we'll talk, heart to heart."  Sadlier Publishing


-When we forgive: we demand repentance first before we will overlook the wrong.


- Zaccheus may have known Levi, another tax collector who followed Jesus.



SERMON                                      MASTERS   



-   Help  us when we try to live without a master

-   When we let our desires and emotions give us our purpose and our direction.

 When we become slaves to our creaturely needs.  

-   Your emotions are your slaves. You control them. J powell  

-   Help us when we try to be our own master .

-   Free us  from our need to always be in control our control everything around us.  Sometimes, even

    control  God.

-   Help us to find that lack with in us  that makes us need to  have so much control. Help us to find the reason we cannot trust

    more than ourselves.  

-  Knowing we are not in control is the start of self control Peter Gomes      

-  people who are influenced or trapped by life-controlling problems   

-  Life-controlling issues.

-   Help us when our possessions become our master.

-  Too often  we allow THEM  to give us our direction and our purpose. 

Help  us when  our possessions own us...when we allow them and other people to be our masters 





-God invites rather than demands repentance.

-Talk about having to climb a tree to see Jesus...can't see around's too tall...can't see over's too wide...gotta go out on a limb.

- We have to separate the sin from the sinner

- The last part of a person to be converted is their wallet!  Martin Luther

- What we see is not determined so much by what is in front of the eyes and by what is behind the eyes.

-God has a big eraser.

-"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

-Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.  Paul Boese

-The pride that keeps us from forgiving is the same pride which keeps us from accepting forgiveness. Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

-"I am precious, worthful and valuable as I am, not as I act."

-I'm not perfect but I'm enough.  Carl Rogers



- Columbine school massacre.  Result of outcasts?

- Political posturing?



- Hard to look down on Zacaeus when he's up that tree.

-Parody, There was once a bad, rich man in Jericho named Zacchaeus who heard that Jesus was coming to town and wanted to see him very much. When Jesus arrived, however, the crowds were thick and Jesus was short, so Zacchaeus couldn’t see him. Then he hit on an idea. He would climb a sycamore tree. Charlie Cook   (Maybe Jesus was short!!)

-Interesting note from the Holeman Bible Dictionary: The name Zacchaeus is the greek form of the the Hebrew name meaning... Innocent! Stirs the pot, don' it?

-A colleague suggested that we preach this sermon from the top of a step ladder--to see things from Z's perspective

-Christ-like generosity has always made a difference. And that difference is needed now, as much as anytime in history.  George Carlin wrote:"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years."



-Talk about the masks we wear during times other than Halloween.  Give examples:  Paul had been a Jew. turned Christian;  St Augustine started out as sinful, became famous Catholic saint.  Talk about these and or your own examples using the idea of masks being removed   Then, tell the story of Zaccheus. How he wore a mask "posing "as a tax collector for Rome.. Greedy, dishonest, etc.  Jesus helped him see his  mask and remove it so he could show others what God really made him to be,  a  loving, generous caring person.  Lindy

- Sing song:  " Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up in the sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see and as the Savior passed that way he looked up in the tree and he said, Zacchaeus, you come down, for I'm going to your house today, I'm going to your house to stay." 

-  Tell the story of Zacchaeus from top of a ladder!

-  Parent Teacher conferences!  What would be your score.  Do your best?  What was Jesus' score 


-The sycamore tree is me!  To lift others above the crowd so they might see the approaching salvation.

-Luke eventually tells the story of another tree. The first tree holds a man living a lie while on the other hangs a man dying for truth.  

  Zacchaeus climbs a tree to get the attention of Jesus. Jesus climbs a tree and dies to get ours attention  Being a tree is easy. Being a Savior is not.  David Skidmore  Becoming a Sycamore Tree

-When I was in High school I went to the teen club one Saturday night. I asked this attractive young lady to dance and she was a great dancer and I thought I needed to get to know her. After the dance my friends told me not to dance with her because none of the good girls would dance with me if I did. I did anyway and sure enough the so called Good Girls wouldn't.  Since the in group rejected her she turned to others and to make a long story short wound up a prostitute and over dosed on drugs in the French Quarter in New Orleans. How different she might have turned out if one of those good girls had made friends with her and introduced her to a different way. .

-Amos 7: 14: I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of Sycomore-fig trees. The prophet Amos occupied the most humble position in the society of his day. No one but the poorest cultivated sycomore figs for it was hard labor.

-The word sycomore is very ancient It was called sycomurus in Roman and Greek, shikma in Aramaic and Hebrew (The same word is used in Arabic in some Middle Eastern countries.), and shikmin in Syriac The origin of the Sycmore fig is Central Africa, south of Abyssinia (Habash).. The tree appeared about 5000 years ago in Egypt, probably from seeds imported with the fruit from the headwaters of the Nile. From there it came into Israel and Lebanon, but only in deep river valleys and on the coastal plain. The sycamore will not tolerate any frost. It is also found on some of the warmer islands of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, especially Cyprus. The tree is evergreen, defoliating only in --relatively speaking--cold winters.The tree is beautiful with a wide strong stem that begins branching close to the ground. Height up to 15 meters; width up to 6 meters. There are 3 fruit generations: profici, mamme, and mammoni (the eaten fruit) The figs are red-rose when ripe. Cuttings are used to propagate new trees. In sandy soils near the sea the length of the cuttings are up to 1.5 meters long.





-Save us a seat, Zacchaeus, out there on a limb, up there in your tree. We want to be where we can see Jesus, now, the paths he follows, ways he takes, people he touches. Christ, we want you to come close to us, and look up at us in all of the diverse trees where we are sitting. We will not be able to contain our joy if you tell us to come down, that you must stay with us today.


 -Lord, help me please  to always make a home for you in my heart and to receive within that home the neighbors and friends and especially the strangers whom I meet.  I am grateful that you are God and that you include me in your assembly, and in your love. Amen


-Oh god, we long to be free in such a way that we are not only free but are  fulfilled.  .  We know that there’s only one adequate master in our lives and that is You.  Help us to be more trusting of You.  Help us to undo the chains of  false masters,  to find our roots and to give up our foolish ways.