32. A TAX COLLECTOR IN A TREE (Luke 19:1-10)

BACKGROUND: In Jesus' day, tax collectors were notorious for their dishonesty. They collected an excess of taxes from the people and kept more of it for themselves than was their rightful share. Usually we think of Jesus as being on the side of the oppressed and poor, but here we see him on the side of the oppressor. In Jewish culture, going to someone's house for dinner was a sign of friendship.
  1. What would daily life be like for Zacchaeus, the chief of tax collectors in Jericho? What were some of the good and bad points?
     
  2. How could Zacchaeus have justified his business practice and lifestyle to himself?
    • Why do you think Zacchaeus wanted so much money?
       
  3. Why do you think Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus - give as many reasons as you can?
    • Do you think that the chief tax collector would have wanted to be seen in a tree? Give your reasons.
       
  4. Recall a time when somebody took your money unfairly. If you had been one of Zacchaeus' victims, how would you have felt about Jesus' behavior in verse 5?
     
  5. What is surprising about Jesus' first encounter with Zacchaeus - remember that this was his first and last visit to Jericho?
     
  6. When do you think Zacchaeus began to believe in Jesus (vs. 5-8)? Discuss several possibilities.
     
  7. What do you think Zacchaeus would have done if Jesus had said, "Come down immediately and give half of your possessions to the poor. Then I will come to your house"?
    • How would you react if Jesus said to you: "First, make restitution for your sins and then I will be your friend"?
       
  8. Imagine what it would be like to give away more than half of your possessions in one single day. What would make you do such a thing?
    • What did Zacchaeus receive in place of the money he lost?
       
  9. What is the biggest difference between Zacchaeus and the citizens of Jericho? (Look at vs.7.)
    • Why did Jesus want to visit the worst man in town?
       
  10. Jesus says to you today: "I must stay in your house today." He wants to go home with you and stay at your house. What do you answer him?
     
  11. Who was seeking whom in this text: was Zacchaeus seeking Jesus or was Jesus seeking Zacchaeus (vs. 3,9,10)?
GLAD TIDINGS: On his way to Jerusalem to be crucified, Jesus made a detour through Jericho. Perhaps it was just for Zacchaeus. When Jesus forgave the sins of Zacchaeus, he knew that he had to carry God's punishment for them. The forgiveness of sins was free for Zacchaeus and it is free for us - but it cost Jesus his life.

2012 Glad Tidings Bible Studies - www.gladtidings-bs.com