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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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luke

Zacchaeus-The Wee Little Man Revisited.

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Luke 19:3

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Zacchaeus was little of stature. In our kid’s song from earlier, he was a wee little man. Other Bible translations refer to him as short.

Was there significance to the fact that Zacchaeus was short, or was this simply a literary description of him? I really had never thought about the issue at all. Given Luke’s status as a historian, I just thought of it as a descriptive thing. The short guy, the big guy, the skinny guy, and so on. As happens sometimes, however, readers have made me think. Here are some comments:

Tom

“Wally, it’s amazing that wee Zacchaeus didn’t develop a “Little Caesar” complex. Hmmm. Or did he?”

Anita

“I can’t help but wonder if the detail that he was a “wee little man” is significant…as if it is part of his identity or something? Little Man Syndrome? lol Just a guess!” Any thoughts?

Isn’t that interesting? It made me think for sure, so let’s just poke around a bit shall we? Did the fact that Zacchaeus was short mean anything besides that he was short? I really don’t know, but something interesting did come to mind. Feel free later to add any thoughts you might have.

It was pointed out by Anita that, as far as she knew, we never got such a specific physical description of anyone Jesus interacted with. I really couldn’t find such either. There were sick people, disabled people, and other things; but never really just what a person looked like.

One other case in the Bible where a person’s physical characteristics were clearly described, and seemingly described as part of their character follows here:

1 Samuel 9:2

And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

Saul: Handsome, tall, and outstanding in every respect. From an important family from the Tribe of Benjamin. But all accounts, the future King Saul was a “good” man.

Fascinating, really.

A good man, picked by a rebellious people to be their king. God never wanted that; he wanted to be their King. The people picked a good man, a fine physical specimen; the people applied their own standards of “good,” and “not good,” to determine who would lead them.

Everybody remember how that all worked out? Like the people who picked him Saul decided he knew better than God, rebelled, and was rejected by God. His walk of faith ended in a shambles and in tatters.

Good man, bad man. Does that sound familiar? Tall man, short man.

Anyway, let’s get back to Zacchaeus. Did Zacchaeus being short affect who he is? Probably, yes. Then, as now, for a man to be significantly smaller than his peers can influence how one looks at life. As Tom said, did he want to be a “Little Caesar?” Could that have driven his career choice? Who knows, right?

What does all this have to do with anything? I am going to step out on a limb here. Saul, and the rich young ruler were both good, acceptable, important men. Both rejected God. Our tax collector was a bad man, accepted by nobody.

God accepted him; God loves and accepts all. Good, bad, tall, or short. God is no respecter of persons.

God extends his arms to us all, and the only thing questionable is how we will respond.

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Zacchaeus -Jesus Meets a Rich Young Ruler.

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Before we really dig much more into our actual story here of Zacchaeus, we are going to briefly discuss some of the background of the story. We are also going to go backwards to another story.

Jesus, at some point  before his encounter with Zacchaeus, had begun his final journey to Jerusalem. He, of course, knew why he was going there. It was on this final journey that Jesus began to attempt to teach his disciples about what was to happen to Him while He was there for the final time.

If readers are interested in the actual geography of this final journey, a really good map is included below.

Some of the events which occurred previously in the journey are key to later events, so let’s recap them really quickly if we may. Our actual story has it’s roots in the events recounted in the ending section of Luke Chapter 9, when the Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, and he and His entourage then turned East, left Galilee, and began the southward trip to Jerusalem. Here we see in

Matthew 19:1

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

It was while Jesus was in that area beyond the Jordan, that he had the encounter that provides such critical background to our actual story of Zacchaeus, and that is His encounter with the rich young ruler.

For today’s post, I am simply going to include both accounts from Scripture, for reading and study. Just read…think. I hope some things about these two stories will jump right out as quite evident. If not, don’t worry, because we will go there next.

Luke 18:18-26

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Luke 19:1-10

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of little stature.And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 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. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 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. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Here we have two stories, clearly linked by time and geography. We have two very different men. We have to very different results. Just a casual look at the ending of each of these stories might seem ….odd.

The rich young ruler, the “good” man, went away sad

Zacchaeus, the “bad” man, rejoiced.

Isn’t that interesting?

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Zacchaeus-Zacch the Weasel

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Luke 19:2

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

So, who was this man Zacchaus, really? Was he the wee little, warm fuzzy fellow we saw from the children’s song in the previous post? Well, it seems fairly certain that that depiction does not really capture the essence of just who Zacchaeus really was. Not only that, but understanding some about who he was, and what his nature likely was, does a great deal to help us understand what was really happening in this passage.

To help us understand a bit about Zacchaeus, it helps to understand a some about exactly how he earned his living. Zacchaeus was a publican. As I try to describe this, I am piecing it together from various things I read, so I may not get all the particulars exactly correct, but the point will be made.

The Romans were quite efficient in their rule of the areas which they had conquered an place under their rule; one way they often did this was to utilize the indigenous peoples of an are to basically rule and administrate on behalf of them, under their authority of course. In this case, Publicans would have been Jews appointed by the Roman to fulfill certain roles. Often Publicans would oversee certain types of public works projects, such as various infrastructure projects. One very important role, especially in the days of Jesus, was the role of tax collector for the Roman Empire.

Tax collection then was different than what we think of now. The Romans didn’t establish tax levies and then wait expectantly for those who owed to file tax returns. What we see is what I have seen referred to as “tax farming.” The Romans would establish a certain level of income they expected from a particular area, and solicit bids from certain men, those interested in being tax collectors. Upon acceptance of a bid, the bidder would prepay the agreed upon income to the Romans, and then the “fun” would begin.

If any collector retained failed to collect his already paid levy to the government, he went broke. If he only collected what was required, he simply broke even. I hope we can see here, how this all shapes up now. The Romans did not care how much a publican collected from the ones who paid; they only cared about their predetermined levy. How did publicans make money? Obviously by collecting above and beyond the required levy. Zacchaeus would have been no more then the Jewish Mafia of the day. Protection rackets are NOT a recent development!

Maybe I read too much into the nature of this man, but I really don’t think so. I think understanding just who he was will help us to better understand later events as we move through this passage.

So, who was he? Zacchaeus was likely are hard, tough, ruthless man with no qualms concerning what he had to do or say to accomplish his goals. He must have been very good at what he did, as he was the “chief.” He certainly did not rise to the top of the particular heap by being a nice guy. Publicans in general were hated by fellow Jews, as they were considered traitorous lackeys of the Romans, on an equal level with prostitutes. It seem likely Zacchaeus didn’t care even a little about all of that.

So, rather than a happy, wee little fellow, what me most likely see here is a man who was selfish, greedy, ruthless, and only out for himself.

Why does this matter? Stay tune to find out!

Zacchaeus-The Wee Little Man?

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Let’s be honest here; what do we think of when we think of the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus? I can’t speak for everybody, but I suspect I speak for many when I say that the first thing that comes to mind when Zacchaeus is mentioned is the kid’s song most people have heard for years. Many have grown up hearing this catchy little ditty on Zacchaeus, the “Wee Little Man.”

 

The Zacchaeus Song

Zaccheus was a wee, little man

And a wee, little man was he

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see

 

And as the Savior came that way

He looked up in the tree

And he said,

“Zaccheus, you come down from there”

For I’m going to your house today

For I’m going to your house today

We do that song with cool hand gestures and little moves that are pretty catchy to be honest, and kids really seem to love this song.

So, what do we end up with here? We have a cute little song about a cute, wee little fellow scampering up a tree and sitting in the branches to see Jesus.

Is that the real Zacchaeus? Is there more to the story than just a happy little guy having lunch with Jesus? Well, of course there is, and we are going to take a look at all of that as we move along.

Next: Who was Zacchaeus really?

Zacchaeus-An Introduction

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We have concluded our study of the Book of James, and now it is time to move onward.

A while back, the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, as related in Luke 19:1-10 was the subject of our Evening Sunday School lesson at church, and I was honored with the chance to teach it. Honestly I had not really given much thought to the entire narrative, even though I had read it a lot of times. What I found was that this story has much more depth to it than we sometimes give it. Unfortunately, we have less than a half hour for our Sunday evening Bible lesson, and I didn’t get to cover it like I would have preferred.

So, for the next little bit, we are going to take up this story and poke around it a little bit and see what we can glean from this story in God’s Word.

Luke 19:1-10

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich . And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 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. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 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. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

That’s all for today. Homework. Read our passage, and pray and meditate on it. Tomorrow we will begin unpacking it and exploring.

Faith In Action-More Results of Envy and Stife

faith in action

James 4:1-10

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.


Read all of James Chapter 4 here

In the beginning of James Chapter 4, we can see that this almost seems like a continuation of the last part of James Chapter 3. We know from our previous studies that James had some thoughts on the sources of wisdom we can choose from; they were from above(God), or from the world. We saw that the results of our choice as to the source of our wisdom would produce particular results.

We can see this starting clearly in James 3:14. One thing to consider here is the usage of the word “if.” The meaning of it in the Bible sometimes means “if” and sometimes it means “since.” The context seems to indicate that James is saying here, “‘Since’ ye have bitter envying.”

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

So, since there IS bitter envying and strife, the results are almost guaranteed, as we see in James 3:16

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

When we first talked about confusion and every evil work. we were fairly vague and general. What, then, are confusion and every evil work?  Well, moving into Chapter 4, James is going to get more specific.!

Faith in Action-Wisdom From Above Shows Fruit

faith in action

James 3: 17,18

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.


Read all of James Chapter 3 here

Godly wisdom is “full of” mercy and good fruits. One writer described this as being “controlled by.”  A person who is full of mercy and good works, then, is controlled by them. In other words, these things are part of the new person who has been indwelt by the Holy Spirit after his or her salvation. Continuing with James’ overriding thought, we can see that mercy and good works will be the natural result of salvation. No mercy and good works, no salvation could be one way his words be taken.

Our mercy should be in accordance to God’s mercy. We should attempt to show the same mercy to others that God has shown to us. In other words, we show mercy to others not because they deserve it, but because we care. God does not give us what we deserve, therefore we should not give others what we think they might deserve. A wonderful example of this is the story of the Good Samaritan we see in Luke 10:25-37. What we see there is an act of mercy done just because it was merciful, rather like God’s act of mercy towards us in providing His Son as an atonement for our sin.

Every good work. This is a very broad statement and brings to mind the fruits of the Spirit Paul discusses in Galatians 2:22,23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Every good work is a very encompassing sort of guidance, and covers a lot of things that should be the natural outpouring of our salvation.

Are we full of the works of the flesh as outlined in the same Chapter of Galatians as above? Or are we full of the Fruits of The Spirit?

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