18 Mar. Luke 19:1-10

18 Mar. Jesus fights the battle of Jericho's prejudice

"Jesus was going though the city of Jericho. A man was there named Zacchaeus, who was a very important tax collector, and he was very wealthy."

"He wanted to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because he was too short to see above the crowd. He ran ahead to a place where Jesus would come, and he climbed a sycamore [fig] tree so he could see him."

"When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I must stay at your house today.'"

"Zacchaeus came down quickly and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to complain, 'Jesus is staying with a sinner!' But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'I will give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times more.'"

"Jeus said to him, 'Salvation has come to this house today, because this man also belongs to the family of Abraham. The Son of Man came to find lost people and save them.'"

          (Luke 19:1-10)



There's lots more to this amusing incident than a little man climbing a tree!

Did you know 'Jesus' (which means 'God saves') is the Greek version of the Hebrew 'Yeshua' or 'Joshua' - the man who fought the Battle of Jericho when "the walls came tumbling down"? (Joshua 6:20) In today's reading, the New Testament 'Joshua' brings the walls of Jericho's prejudices "tumbling down"!

In Mark 10:46, Jesus and his disciples left Ephraim and approached Jericho, en route for Jerusalem, in the spring of 30AD (see the map).

Luke tells us that, while passing through Jericho, Jesus met Zacchaeus – a wealthy Jewish public official (or 'publican') who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman government. Zacchaeus and other 'publicans' were hated by the local Jews, because they collected taxes for the unpopular occupying power (the Romans), and cheated people while they did so, often extracting more money from them than they were legally entitled to.

Because he was too short to see over the crowds, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore fig tree – a type of fig tree common in Palestine.

Jesus called up to him and was invited to stay in his house - a common Jewish courtesy, as Jews never stayed in 'inns', but always stayed in the homes of fellow Jews.

Zacchaeus was astonished that Jesus should choose to stay with a 'sinner', and showed repentance and remorse for having cheated the poor. Hearing Jesus's words about 'loving your neighbour', he promised to pay back four times the amount to those he had cheated. (Luke 19:1-10)

The local Jews were amazed to see Jesus going to stay in the home of a notorious cheat who was also a Roman collaborator! But Jesus pointed out that his mission was to save the lost - the outcasts and the cheats in society - and he ignored the cries of protest from those who were prejudiced against the dregs of society!

On the way out of Jericho, Jesus healed a blind man – Bartimaeus – who was begging by the roadside as he was unable to work (see Mark 10:46-52). Once again, Jesus demonstrated to his fellow Jews that the worship that God loves is helping the poor and saving the rich from the love of money. It is not "the blood of bulls, lambs and goats" (Isaiah 1:11), but "seeking justice... helping orphans and standing up for the rights of widows." (Isaiah 1:17)

The map shows the route taken by Jesus and his disciples from Ephraim via Jericho to Jerusalem.

You can read more about Jericho - the ‘city of palm trees’ - @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/jesuss-entry-into-jerusa…/

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