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Monday, October 25, 2010

+ Pentecost 23 + October 31, 2 0 1 0 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke


Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
October 31, 2010 (Lectionary 31)

Complementary Series

Isaiah 1:10-18
Psalm 32:1-7 (6)
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

Semicontinuous Series

Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144 (144)
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

Prayer of the Day

Merciful God, gracious and benevolent,
through your Son you invite all the world to
a meal of mercy. Grant that we may eagerly
follow his call, and bring us with all your
saints into your life of justice and joy,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Today salvation has come | to this house,
for the Son of Man came to seek out and to |
save the lost. Alleluia. (Luke 19:9, 10)

Ia. Context: Luke 19:1-10

This pericope seems to pick up right from where last Sunday’s

Gospel lesson left us dwelling on The humbling of the exalted and

the exaltation of the humble. Thus most commentators have

focused on both the righteousness of Zacchaeus and his simultaneous

material wealth.

See, for examples, Rev. Brian Stoffregen’s interesting

Exegetical notes at <>

And the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops note at


Suffice it to say that here Luke is not so much isolating

“righteousness” from material existence in a sort of Venn

Diagram that separates Verba from Orba, rather Luke

Is pointing out the particular degree of understanding or

even mis-understanding shown by Zacchaeus.

Here the wordplay on his name (“righteous”)

is a fruitful context for development, along with

the symbolic meaning of his slight stature. The late

Bishop of Stockholm (and Dean of Harvard Divinity

School) , Krister Stendahl, often remarked on the human

tendency to absorb oneself in what he called “little me.”

Stendahl saw this as a leitmotiv in any standard inter-

pretation of Resurrection theology which treats the

afterlife as an individual destiny apart from the fuller

communion of all the Saints. The implications for

ecclesiastical inclusiveness, ecumenical dialogue, and

interfaith understanding seem obvious indeed, but the

accent in Luke on the “Sunday School” figure of Zaccheus

brings us back to the interplay between the earliest Church

and the rich complexity of inter-testamental Judaism,

the theological setting in life of this passage.

1b. Test: Luke 19:1-10


Jesus and Zacchaeus

19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


1Καὶ εἰσελθὼν διήρχετο τὴν Ἰεριχώ.
2καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος, καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος.
3καὶ ἐζήτει ἰδεῖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν τίς ἐστιν, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου ὅτι τῇ ἡλικίᾳ μικρὸς ἦν.
4καὶ προδραμὼν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν ἀνέβη ἐπὶ συκομορέαν ἵνα ἴδῃ αὐτόν, ὅτι ἐκείνης ἤμελλεν διέρχεσθαι.
5καὶ ὡς ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον, ἀναβλέψας ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν, Ζακχαῖε, σπεύσας κατάβηθι, σήμερον γὰρ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου δεῖ με μεῖναι.
6καὶ σπεύσας κατέβη, καὶ ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν χαίρων.
7καὶ ἰδόντες πάντες διεγόγγυζον λέγοντες ὅτι Παρὰ ἁμαρτωλῷ ἀνδρὶ εἰσῆλθεν καταλῦσαι.
8σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν κύριον, Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσιά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν. 9εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Σήμερον σωτηρία τῷ οἴκῳ τούτῳ ἐγένετο, καθότι καὶ αὐτὸς υἱὸς Ἀβραάμ ἐστιν:
10ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. Analysis: Luke 19:1-10

The story of a tax collector named “ Zacchaeus ”
is unique among the four gospels. Though a rich man
(see Lk. 19:2), Zacchaeus can be contrasted with the wealthy man of Luke 18:18ff. who cannot remove himself from his material possessions to become a disciple of Jesus

According to Luke, Zacchaeus this is an examplar
of the proper approach to wealth. He pledges to
give half of his possessions to the needy (vs. 8) and
also becomes an heir of salvation (vs. 9):

Jesus said to him,

“Today salvation has come to this house,
since he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
“Son of Abraham” is literally a “descendant of Abraham.”

Zacchaeus, whose repentance is shown by his
decision to amend his former living, reveals
himself as a true descendant of Abraham,
and true heir to the promises of God in the
Hebew scriptures. Underlying Luke's portrayal
of Zacchaeus as a SON of Abraham, the father of
Israel, is his recognition of the role played
by Israel in salvation history.

3. Strategy: Luke 19:1-10

A straightforward and succinct approach to this

all-too-familiar passage seems like the best approach.

But it is tempting to overlook some of the underlying
themes in Luke which might serve as “bookends”

as we approach the end of Year C. Luke’s emphasis

on the universality of the Gospel and the message of

salvation to the “ nations ” or Gentiles is a logical

starting point and one that rescues Zacchaeus from

being a caricature figure (remember the beloved

“Arch” book series for children in past years?).

Taking Zacchaeus as representative of Israelite

tradition, a remnant living once again amidst

oppression in the Roman Empire, raises the note of

irony in this text, and brings to the foreground

the counter-cultural aspect of Judeo-Christian

faith. There is a rewarding discussion of this

theme in John Dominic Crossan’s GOD & EMPIRE:

Jesus against Rome, Then and Now (Harper, 2007),

But for broader historical perspective one might

also take up Cullen Murphy’s remarkable study,

Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the

Fate of America (Houghton-Mifflin, 2007). As we

In the “First World” (and true heirs of Caesar)

reflect on our material prosperity, coupled with our

great military might, we might also consider the

connection we have with those who remain

“small” according to the ways “stature” is presently

in the eyes of a world filled with devilish nuclear weapons,

a poisoned ecology, Wiki-leaks, and other cannons loose

in the cosmos.

4. Notes

Crossan, J.D. GOD & EMPIRE: Jesus against Rome, Then and Now (San Francisco: Harper, 2007).

Douglas, J.D. , ed. The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (UBS IV-NRSV). (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1990).

Just, A. A., ed. LUKE. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. (Douners Grove, IL: I.V.P., 2003).

Murphy, C. Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the
Fate of America (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2007).

Tunseth, S. et alia, eds. Lutheran Study Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortess, 2009).

5. Hymn Suggestions:

Depending on whether your parish will observe

this Sunday as a (slightly archaic) Reformation

Sunday or as a (immoveable feast of) All Saints Sunday,

hymn selections may vary widely. Here are just a few

hymns often sung on or around this time of year:

Gathering: A Mighty Fortress – ELW 503/5

Hymn of the Day: Christ is Made the Sure Foundation – ELW 645

Offertory: Come to the Table – ELW 481

Communion: Lord Keep us Steadfast in Your Word – ELW 517

Sending: Built on a Rock the Church Doth Stand – ELW 652

Lexegete: David A. Buehler, PhD, Editor


Lexegete ™

© 2010 Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747


Saturday, October 16, 2010

+ Pentecost + X X I , 2010 +

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 17, 2010 (Lectionary 29)
Complementary Series
Genesis 32:22-31
Psalm 121 (2)
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Semicontinuous Series
Jeremiah 31:27-34
Psalm 119:97-104 (103)
2 Timothy 3:14–4:5
Luke 18:1-8

Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people, you are always ready to hear our cries. Teach us to rely day and night on your care. Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all this suffering world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The word of God is liv- | ing and active,
able to judge the thoughts and intentions | of the heart. Alleluia. (Heb. 4:12)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 18:1-8

This parable and the following (9-14) continue the

journey to Jerusalem, Jesus on the way to the cross. This

journey sets Jesus' theology of the kingdom in contrast to

the methods of the kingdoms of this world. Here we see

the freedom of God to act as God chooses, to the surprise

of those who have worked out the systems of the society in

which Jesus and the disciples lived and ultimately to the

surprise of the people of the infant church of Luke's

time. Jesus surprises us by praising unlikely people--a

woman, an unjust judge--for qualities that are not

acceptable in polite society, but are necessary for

survival. The negative example of the judge can be

compared to the dishonest steward of chapter 16.

At chapter 17:20, the Pharisees have asked a question

about the coming of the kingdom. Jesus discusses with

them the apocolyptic expectation of the day(s) of the son

of man. Danker points out that in this discussion Jesus

subsumes the traditional idea of the day of the Lord under

the idea of the Kingdom, rather than making the two

identical, thus making Jesus' appearance at the end of

time continuous with his contemporary activity. This

parable comes as an admonition to tenacity of faith in the

face of the oppostion of this world. The emphasis is not

on apocolyptic curiosity, but on current relationship to God.

1b. TEXT: Luke 18:1-8


The Parable of the Persistent Widow

18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.
3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.


1Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐγκακεῖν, 2λέγων, Κριτής τις ἦν ἔν τινι πόλει τὸν θεὸν μὴ φοβούμενος καὶ ἄνθρωπον μὴ ἐντρεπόμενος. 3χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσα, Ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου. 4καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἐπὶ χρόνον, μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ, Εἰ καὶ τὸν θεὸν οὐ φοβοῦμαι οὐδὲ ἄνθρωπον ἐντρέπομαι, 5διά γε τὸ παρέχειν μοι κόπον τὴν χήραν ταύτην ἐκδικήσω αὐτήν, ἵνα μὴ εἰς τέλος ἐρχομένη ὑπωπιάζῃ με. 6Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ κύριος, Ἀκούσατε τί ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας λέγει: 7ὁ δὲ θεὸς οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός, καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ' αὐτοῖς; 8λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς;

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 18: 1-8

Lk.18: 1 & 7, 8 The extent of the parable itself is

in dispute. Those who limit the parable to verses 2-5

place primary emphasis on the tenacity of the woman.

Those who hold that the original story continues to verse

8a place a dual emphasis on the judge and the woman, with

the judge being a negative example: If an unjust judge

can be persuaded to act justly, how much more will God act

in behalf of the people of God--the elect. To the

people whom Luke addresses this Gospel, the question of

the Pharisees in chapter 17 is pertinent when rephrased:

How long do we need to put up with abuse in this world?

The answer comes in verse 8: God will come unexpectedly

to see justice done--therefore, remain faithful until the


Under the latter interpretation, Luke's introduction to

the parable (verse 1) is too limiting, because it

emphasizes prayer in a manner that manipulates God,

whereas the emphasis on the judge in verses 7 and 8 lifts

up the compassion of God.

Lk. 18: 2-5 Scholars generally agree that the case as

presented is financial in nature, possibly relating to the

inheritance. The widow may have been quite young, as the

marriage age tended to be 12-15. Jeremias quotes an 1894

text which tells of a similar incident in Mesopotamia,

which the author had witnessed, wherein a woman cried out

because she did not have the money to bribe the judge's

secretaries in order to gain a hearing. The judge asked

about the ruckus, then heard the woman's case. Some

scholars see this as another instance of Luke's concern

for the oppressed, especially the poor and women.

Lk. 18: 5 [upopiaze me] It is debateable whether the

judge literally fears a black eye, or figuratively fears

exposure at some public scene.

3. STRATEGY: Luke 18: 1-8a

I suggest two possible themes for preaching: (1)An

emphasis on prayer without ceasing in the face of

difficult circumstances (God, are you listening?), or (2)

an emphasis on being found faithful to the end.

One way of recognizing the dual affect of prayer

without ceasing and faithfulness for an extended length of

time might be to recall the underground Christians of

Japan who continued to practice faith during persecution

by creating secret altars in their homes and passing the

faith quietly from generation to generation. One problem

with this illustration for those of us who worry about Too

much individualism in the American church is the fact that

even after the practice of Christian faith is safe in

Japan, the hidden Christians still continue their hidden

ways. Even so, the practice of prayerful hope in the

midst of an uncertain future supports both aspects of our


"When Arsenius (one of the desert fathers) had asked

for the second time, "Lord, lead me to the way of

salvation," the voice that spoke to him not only said, '

be silent' but also, 'pray always'...The literal

translation of the words 'pray always' is 'come to rest.'

The Greek word for rest is [hesychia], and [hesychasm] is

the term which refers to the spirituality of the desert.

A hesychast is a man or a woman who seeks solitude and

silence as the ways to unceasing prayer. The prayer of

the hesychasts is a prayer of rest. This rest, however,

has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It

is a rest in God in the mist of a very intense daily

struggle." (Nouwen, p. 55f)

Another approach to continuous prayer might be an

introduction to Psalm 13: "How Long, O Lord..." The

Psalm concludes with reliance on the steadfast love of the


"Our whole life is an effort to approach, to

appreciate, to some degree to participate in, the

absoluteness of God himself. But we can never do it;

that's why our whole life is a restlessness....This

restlessness may make us want to throw in the towel--or to

pull up our socks. You can play it either way. You can

either be creatively restless, as before the unknowable,

or you can simply collapse into futility. One of the

goals of the Christian message is to join together the

people of the way, the way of an eternally given

restlessness, and to win from that restlessness the

participation in God, which is all that our mortality can

deliver." (Sittler, p. 28.)

There are always stories of times of crisis in our

communities--either of personal, local, or broader

nature--in which there has been perseverence in the face

of great odds. I think of the variations in coping with

the great depression, the resentment that destroyed lives

and families as over against the faithfulness that created

systems of cooperation.

4. REFERENCES: Luke 18: 1-8a

Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.

Jeremias, Joachim. REDISCOVERING THE PARABLES. New York:
Scribner’s, 1966.

NEW TESTAMENT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974. IV 187 f, 380 f; VIII435, 590 f; IX 449 f.

Nouwen, Henri. THE WAY OF THE HEART. New York:
Ballantine, 1981.

Sittler, Joseph. GRAVITY AND GRACE. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.

Exegete: Rev. Herman W. Frerichs III (RT) lives in Sprinfgield, MO.


© 2010 Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747-1925