Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

When Jesus was travelling through Jericho, a man named Zacchaeus (who was a chief tax collector, and a Jew) wanted to catch a glimpse of him. However, he was not tall enough to be able to see over the crowd's heads, so he climbed a sycamore tree in order to get a better view. When Jesus passed by, he called Zacchaeus down from the tree and told him that he was going to be a guest in his house. The people were surprised that Jesus wanted to visit the house of a sinner, but it had a great effect on Zacchaeus himself - he promised to give half of his possessions to the poor, and to pay back four times what he owed to anyone whom he had cheated. Jesus concluded the incident by saying that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' house that day. Jesus said that the Son of Man had come to seek and to save what was lost.

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The Woman and Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50)

When Jesus was eating a meal in Simon the Pharisee's house, a woman (who had led a sinful life) burst into the house, wet Jesus' feet with her tears then dried them with her hair. She then kissed his feet, and broke an alabaster flask of perfume over them. Simon was surprised; he felt that if Jesus really was a prophet then he should have known that the woman was a sinner, and wouldn't have let her touch him. But Jesus told a parable about a man who was owed money by two different people - one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. He forgave them both their debts. Jesus asked Simon which of the two debtors would love the money lender the most; Simon replied (correctly) that it was the one who had the bigger debt forgiven. Jesus said that because the woman had shown such great love and care towards him (in contrast to the care shown by Simon himself) that her many sins were forgiven. The other people questioned amongst themselves who Jesus could be, as only God could forgive sins; Jesus said to the woman that her faith had saved her.


Themes

  • Clean/Unclean - at that time, you could become "unclean" through sin, through failing to follow Jewish rituals and laws, or even by coming into contact with someone or something that was already classed as being unclean. The greater the extent to which someone was considered unclean, the less likely they were to be allowed into the temple in order to make themselves clean again. It was a vicious circle. Jesus was giving people a second chance, bypassing the power of the temple, and leading them directly to God.
  • Show that you mean it - It isn't enough simply to say that you are sorry, but you must prove that you mean it by your actions, and earn your forgiveness.
  • Tax collector - tax collectors were outcasts and they used their positions to cheat people. They worked for the Roman government and were considered unclean, representing a shady part of 'the establishment'.
  • Faith and Forgiveness - because she showed such an abundance of faith and love at Simon's house, Jesus forgave the woman's sins. The way to God is through genuine faith, rather than superficial actions which are not sincerely meant. And anyone - even the greatest of sinners - can grow close to God in this way, no matter what they have done in the past.
  • The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost
    People were surprised that Jesus would want to associate with outcasts and sinners, but he said that his mission was towards those who were lost, not those who knew the way. He came to minister to precisely those outcasts who could not get help anywhere else, and who needed his aid in order to find God.

Contemporary Issues

  • Outcasts in today's society. Who are they?
  • Prejudices in the modern world.
  • Supporting charities.
  • Being a "good Christian" - even towards those you dislike.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Priorities, commitments and values.
  • Is true faith about rituals, ceremonies and rules? Or sincere belief and a wish to please God?

  

Revision


These two stories are about people who were rejected by society.  What made them outcasts?

Zacchaeus?




The Woman in Simon the Pharisee's house?

 

 

Was simply "saying sorry" enough?  Explain - give examples.

 

Why were the Jewish authorities critical of Jesus?

List three or four people/groups that might be considered to be outcasts now, and explain why.

 

Write briefly about ONE PERSON and ONE CHARITY, explaining what they have done to try to help those who are now rejected by society.

 
 


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