Zacchaeus: A Transformed Witness
Where do people in our culture turn for help, change or transformation?
Jesus is traveling through southern Palestine on his way to Jerusalem. This trip will culminate in his death and resurrection. As he journeys, Jesus makes the most of every opportunity to do ministry. Jericho, a rich agricultural town and popular resort for royalty and priests, was in Jesus’ path. Zacchaeus was one of the last people Jesus met before his death. Their encounter illustrates how Jesus can transform a person from the inside out.
1. For background, read or skim Luke 18:31-43. What is happening as Jesus approaches Jericho?
2. Read Luke 19:1-10. In the first six verses (19:1-6), what are some things we learn about Zacchaeus?
3. What kind of reputation might a chief tax collector develop in a town like this? (Note: “The Romans farmed out the task of collecting the taxes in any particular area to the highest bidder. The man did not receive any salary for his work but collected as much money as he could so that he would have a handsome rake-off after paying the government the appointed sum” [The New Bible Commentary: Revised]. Tax collectors were despised not only by the Romans, but also by their own people.)
4. What strikes you about the initial meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus? What was the reaction of the crowd as they see this relationship develop between Zacchaeus and Jesus (verse 7)?
5. Jesus is a master at building relationships and communicating with people. What does Jesus do to build a friendship with Zacchaeus?
6. What seems to be going on inside Zacchaeus by the end of this encounter (verses 8-10)? How is he transformed by meeting Jesus? What might be some of the far reaching effects of this transformation on both Zacchaeus and the other people in his community?
7. How does this passage illustrate Jesus’ life mission as stated in verse 10?
How have you experienced the seeking or saving power of Jesus in your life (maybe even in the past week)? What are some ways Jesus has changed you? How can you be a witness to Jesus’ transforming power in your life?
“Witnesses to Jesus” Bible Studies are available
Many thanks to those who gave their time to the writing and editing of these studies: the InterVarsity® staff authors (mentioned with each study); Kathy Burrows (design); Jeff Yourison (layout editor); and Shelley Soceka and Judy Yourison (proofreaders).—Bob Grahmann, editor
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