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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 ™

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