Study Guide: Zacchaeus

Sunday July 5, 2009 | Shawna Boren

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Repentance and salvation are understood best in the story of someone’s life. Zacchaeus is a great example of radical repentance and a clear pronouncement of salvation by Jesus.

Extended Summary:

In the passage for this week, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and was passing through Jericho. As he and his followers were making their way through Jericho, Zacchaeus was drawn to Jesus. He was too short to see what was going on so he ran ahead and climbed a tree to see Jesus as he went by. This running and climbing was unusual activity for a chief of tax collectors. This would cost him his dignity and probably expose him to ridicule. But apparently Zacchaeus didn’t care. Getting to Jesus was more important.

Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree and told him to come down. Jesus also told him that he’d be staying at Zaccheaus’ house that day which was a great honor for Zacchaeus. This offended the people who were there because they considered Zacchaeus and other tax collectors to be traitors of the Jews.

Zacchaeus was so moved by Jesus that he made a bold and remarkable announcement. He said that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and anyone he had cheated he would pay back fourfold! This radical reversal in Zacchaeus’ life was apparently what Jesus was hoping for because his response was a proclamation of salvation on Zacchaeus and his house.

Shawna connected this passage back to Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Just like the beggar in last week’s message, Zacchaeus was a part of the fulfillment of this promise.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting text?
  2. Why do you suppose the crowds were offended at the fact that Jesus would be staying with Zacchaeus?
  3. What did repentance look like in this passage? What did it cost the one who repented?
  4. Look again at Luke 19:9-10 and compare it with Luke 4:18-19. What connections do you see here? What does this look like for us today?