This week’s ongoing Biblical study series on the Social Gospel Blog with Rev. Paul J. Bern will be part 1 of Luke chapter 19
Forgiveness for Cheaters, Hustlers and Crooks
(Luke chapter 19, verses 1–10)
Today as we start chapter 19 of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus and the Twelve — along with an entourage consisting of many believers plus a few accusers — had left the place where Jesus had healed the blind beggar, and had just arrived in Jericho. Presumably the beggar Jesus had healed was among that number, if for no other reason than he was actually able to see Jericho for the first time. But there was more to it than just that, as I pointed out last week. That formerly blind beggar was transformed in his mind, not just his eyesight. He put those newly healed eyes to good use, as the scripture says (“Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God”). He became a follower of Jesus in Spirit and in Truth, which is exactly what should happen when we give our lives to Christ.
The blind beggar who had been healed became a minister of the Good News of Jesus, and we have a responsibility as authentic believers to emulate Jesus just like that healed beggar did. One thing you can be sure of — that formerly blind ex-beggar was well taken care of for the entire remainder of his life, so long as he kept on telling everyone what Jesus had done for him. We are all charged with the task of aspiring to be the same. Bearing that in mind, let’s go ahead and get started with this week’s lesson right from the top of chapter 19.
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ But Zacchaeus looked up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated…