The Passion of Christ in the Gospel of Luke
A Guide to Meditation and Prayer
Week 1 - Day 3
God Notices You
The Story of Zacchaeus
Meditation on Scripture- Read Luke 19:1-10 and write your reflections in the workbook. Use the summary below for further reflection on the passage. Prayer- Use the Guide for Prayer.
We are going to meditate through the final week of Jesus’ life in this set of exercises. The gospel of Luke will be our guide. The hope is that we will draw closer to Christ and get to know him better through these meditations and prayers. We open with two stories that precede the triumphal entry. The first is the account of Zacchaeus. This story contains what is considered the theme sentence for the entire book of Luke, verse 10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The account of Zacchaeus is a wonderful story that many of us remember from Vacation Bible School. We sang, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a Sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see.” Zacchaeus was both wealthy and despised. Luke says that he was not only a tax collector but a “chief” tax collector. He made his wealth by being an arm of Rome to collect money from the people. Whatever over the specified amount he could collect went directly to him. Zacchaeus had apparently been very successful in overcharging people for Luke says that he was wealthy. Like today, some part of the Roman taxes benefitted the community through public works but to the Jews the occupation by Rome was distasteful in the extreme. For that reason, they despised those who aided them in any way, tax collectors being particularly an object of scorn. We can understand the displeasure of some that Jesus went to eat with Zacchaeus.
The picture of diminutive Zacchaeus up in the tree has delighted children since the gospels were written. Even as adults we find the image of the wealthy Zacchaeus up in the tree a bit comical. Yet here is a story of God’s grace. That Jesus would notice Zacchaeus meant everything to the social outcast. He was delighted to receive Jesus and entertain him.
In the gospel of Luke, what one does with one’s possessions is an indication of one’s level of discipleship. Zacchaeus made a bold and generous commitment. He would give half his possessions to the poor and restore fourfold any he had cheated. This went far beyond Old Testament laws about restitution (Leviticus 5:16). Jesus commended him, not so much for his generosity or good works, but his faith. Zacchaeus had embraced Jesus with an open heart. That faith made him a “son of Abraham,” because Abraham believed in God and his promises. Jesus then states the heart of his mission. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” The entire gospel of Luke illustrates this mission as does this story about the call of Zacchaeus.
Things to Consider –
· Why do you think Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus? What made him curious? When was the last time you deeply wanted to be close to God?
· Do you think Zacchaeus felt that something was missing in his life? Why was his wealth not enough to satisfy him?
· Is it clear in your mind that life’s important matters are not about money? While we need a certain amount to live, have you come fully to understand that what matters is the relationships in our lives, with God and others?
· What gave Zacchaeus the ability in this moment to recognize that there was something more important than money?
· Have you ever felt like God saw you individually? Called you by name? Did something for you personally?
· Have you recently felt unnoticed by God? What would you like God to do for you or know about you?
· If you could not worry about what people thought, like Jesus in this story, what would you do differently in your life?
· Is there anyone in your sphere of influence whom you could help find their way to God? Who? Consider what you can do to help someone who is lost find their way to God?
· Do you have a moment in your life when you felt like salvation came to you?
Guide for Prayer –
· Close your eyes and take one full minute to calm your mind and gather your spirit.
· In prayer thank God for your family.
· In prayer thank God for three additional blessings that come to mind.
· In participating in these spiritual exercises, you are doing something to draw closer to God. You are climbing up in the tree, like Zacchaeus to see Jesus better. Ask God to allow you to come to know him better through these exercises.
· Think about the measure of your faith at the moment. Do you consider it strong or weak? Ask God to increase your faith.
· If you are feeling unnoticed by God at the moment, ask God to turn his gaze in your direction. Share your heart with God. Express your need of him.
· At times in these guides, there will be prayers to one member of the Trinity or to all of them. Pray these prayers as seem appropriate to you.
· Prayer to our Heavenly Father – Dear God, thank you that you came to seek and save those who are lost. Look on me with your favor.
· Prayer to the Son – Lord Jesus, do not pass me by. I want to see you and know you.
· Prayer to the Holy Spirit – Holy Spirit, open my eyes and ears, so I can hear Christ’s voice when he calls.
· Psalm 103:17 says, “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.” Pray for your family by name. Ask God to extend his steadfast love to them, now and in the future.
· Take some moments to offer your own prayers to God. Offer whatever prayers and praises seem appropriate.