The Narrative Lectionary this week calls for a reading of Luke 18:31-19:10. This is the final stop on Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem. Below is my visual commentary. Feel free to copy and use any of these images.
The reading has three sections. They all have something to do with sight and blindness.
The disciples continue to be blind to what Jesus is really up to.
Ironically, a blind man can see who Jesus is. Faith has better vision than logic.
Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus. Let’s zoom in on this story.
Jericho is Jesus’ last stop before he enters Jerusalem and his final week.
Zaccchaeus is a chief tax collector and rich. The fact that he is rich should set us up to hear Jesus attack once again. The rich have not fared well in Luke’s Gospel.
Wait, what? Why must Jesus stay here?
Here goes Jesus again, associating with “sinners.” The crowd is disgusted. Tax collectors are snakes, plain and simple, right?
How should we interpret Zacchaeus’ speech here? The NRSV translates it in the future tense. This makes it seem like a repentance story. From now on, the evil tax collector is going to clean up his act.
The ESV, however, translates it in the present tense. This, by the way, is how the Greek is written.
What if this is not a repentance story, but a revelation and reversal story.
Zacchaeus declares that, in spite of how harshly he has been judged and ostracized by the community, he is doing the right thing.
What is the salvation? Is it a personal conversion of Zac? Is it a restoration of truth and a deconstruction of prejudice (not all tax collectors are bad guys)? Is it the simple fact that Jesus (God Saves) is in the house?
Is it all of the above?
Jesus reminds the crowd and affirms Zacchaeus of his true identity. He is a son of Abraham, regardless of his job title.
Who is lost in this story? Is it Zacchaeus? Is it the crowd? Is it the sense of peace/shalom and community? Jesus goes to those places and heals them.
The Travel Narrative began when Jesus sent out the seventy to go to the places that he intended to go. They were to do the things that he intended to do. When they found a person of peace, they were to remain in that house, share the peace and bring healing.
This work of peace elicits the proclamation, “The Kingdom of God has come near!”
Jesus demonstrates this action in various ways as he progresses through his journey.
What if the Zacchaeus story is the culmination of this whole process? What if Zacchaeus is a person of peace? What if he is the only one in Jericho who is doing Kingdom work: caring for the poor and seeking justice in a corrupt system?
That is why Jesus must stay in his house and why Salvation (The Kingdom of God) has come.
Thanks be to God! May we seek the Kingdom Life today.