2. JESUS MEETS THE BOSS OF A TAX OFFICE (Luke 19:1-10)
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:At the time of Jesus, the tax-collectors were known for their dishonest behavior. First of all, they were serving the occupying force (the Romans), and second of all, they usually put tax money into their own pockets and became rich at the cost of their countrymen. From Verse 7, we can see how unpopular Zaccheus was in his hometown. As far as we know, this was Jesus’ only visit to Jericho, and it happened only one week before his death. By then he had been doing his public ministry for three years, and everybody knew that he had chosen a publican as one of his disciples.
1. Can a person be happy if he knows that everybody considers him a thief/takes him to be a thief?
What kind of effect did it perhaps have on Zaccheus that he had always been shorter than the other boys (3b)?
How can we/one get over having being mobbed in our/one’s youth?
2. Think of various reasons why Zaccheus had decided to become a tax-collector.
How did tax-collectors perhaps justify their behavior when they took from a poor family its last sheep or penny?
What was required of a man who became a boss of a tax office in a big city in those circumstances? Do you think that a kind-hearted man could have become the boss of Jericho’s tax office? Give your reasons.
3. How do you think Zaccheus took it when he saw that all the people in Jericho despised him (7)?
It usually takes some time to become a boss. If Zaccheus was around 50, he probably had grown-up children. What did they perhaps think about their father’s work?
People usually rethink their goals and values when they are around 50. What do you think Zaccheus wanted from the rest of his life at this point?
4. Usually the tax-collectors didn’t have anything to do with religious people. Why did Zaccheus so absolutely want to see Jesus (4)?
Respectable men never run in the culture of the Middle East. What does it show of Zaccheus that he didn’t simply address Jesus but chose to behave in such a highly unusual way as running and climbing into a tree (4)?
A sycamore tree can grow to be as big as an oak. What do you think: was the boss of Jericho’s tax office indifferent about being seen sitting in a tree, or did he want to hide himself among the leaves? Give your reasons.
5. This was the first time Jesus had visited Jericho. What did Zaccheus think when he all of a sudden heard his name from the mouth of Jesus (5)?
Eating together is a sign of friendship in that culture. When did Jesus decide that he would visit Zaccheus' home? Think of various alternatives (5)?
6. How would Zaccheus have reacted if Jesus had said to him from under the tree: “If you become a good man first, then I will want to be your friend?”
How would you react if somebody said to you: “If you change your bad ways first, then I will want to be your friend?”
Why doesn’t a human being change just by being told to do so?
7. Why was Jesus in such a hurry (5)?
Why didn’t the boss of the tax office feel at all awkward when climbing down the big tree in front of all the people of Jericho (6)?
8. Zaccheus had always loved money. What changed his heart so suddenly (8)?
Count approximately what percent of his previous fortune Zaccheus kept for himself (8).
The people of Jericho had criticized Jesus for staying in the house of the worst man in town. How would they have perhaps reacted if Zaccheus had built, for example, a school with half of his big fortune, and then gone from house to house returning the unfair taxes fourfold?
9. Abraham was the first ancestor of the Jews and he is the “father of the faith” for Christians. What did Jesus mean by saying that Zaccheus was "a son of Abraham?" (9)
What did Jesus mean by his words in Verse 10?
10. When do you think Zaccheus became a believer in Jesus? Mention the verse.
What happened to the punishment of all the bad things that Zaccheus had done?
What did Zaccheus think when he heard after a week that Jesus had died on the cross?
THE GLAD TIDINGS QUESTIONS: On his way to Jerusalem Jesus visited Jericho just to meet the worst man in town. When he became Zaccaeus’ friend, he knew that he would be punished in his stead. The forgiveness of sins was free for Zaccheus and it is free for us, but it cost Jesus his life.
Jesus says today to you the words in Verse 10. What do you answer him? (You can answer in your heart.)