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Luke 19:1-10

Lesson Focus

Jesus extends forgiveness to those who don’t exalt themselves, but to those who begin to make restitution for the wrongs they have done.

Lesson Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:

  • Understand that repentance involves more than just being sorry, but also working toward making amends with those we’ve wronged.

  • Be encouraged to make a list of those to whom they need to make amends.

Catching up on the Story

In last week’s passage, Jesus clearly begins to specify

that there are certain behaviors and attitudes that will disqualify us from participating in God’s coming Kingdom.

For the Pharisees, it was a haughty attitude. The two stories following directly on the heels of last week’s passage have more things to say about our inclusion in the Kingdom of God. Jesus will affirm that those who will enter the Kingdom of God will need to be like little

children. Keep in mind here that children of the day were little more than property and were very unimportant. Next, Jesus enters into a conversation with a rich man who becomes very sad when Jesus tells him to sell all he has so that he might follow Jesus. Those who are

unwilling to lower themselves in relation to everyone else, those who are unwilling to give everything they have to follow Christ, these ones will not be able to participate in the Kingdom of God.

The two stories following the blessing of the children and the conversation with the rich man focus on issues of vision. In verses 31-34 of chapter 18 Jesus outlines how he himself is going to lower himself and give everything he has for the sake of creation. The disciples, however, fail to understand. One could say they fail to see what Jesus has been saying and doing. The very next passage verses 35-43 finds Jesus confronted with a blind man. What the disciples, who have been traveling with Jesus for some time, have been unable to see this blind man now sees. The blind beggar sees Jesus for who he is and is rewarded with his sight back. Not only that, but Jesus declares that the man’s faith has saved him. Those who are humble, willing to give of themselves for the sake of others will be able to see Jesus for who he really is. The faith of people like the tax collector, the little children, and the blind beggar will ultimately result in their salvation and participation in the Kingdom of God.

As we move on to this week’s passage, vision and seeing

remain important themes. Even those who

we think may not be able to see what God is doing will be able to recognize Jesus for who he really is.

The Text

The central point of this passage is that Jesus has come to seek and save the lost. This has been the thrust of Luke’s gospel from the beginning. The lost, in Luke’s gospel, is a wide and varied group. They are rich and poor alike, healthy and sick, Jews and Gentiles. Jesus, in different ways with them all, heals them, encourages them, rebukes them and, if they are willing, welcomes them into the family of God. Some respond appropriately, others do not.

In this encounter, however, Jesus is offering an alternative to the rich man found in 18:18-30. There, the rich man was not able to see how his salvation was more important than his wealth. Here, Zacchaeus, even though the crowd blocks him, is able to rightly see and discern the appropriate response to the arrival of Jesus. What is Zacchaeus’ response? He does two things. First, he gives half his wealth to the poor. This should have been how he was using his wealth all along. Second, he pays restitution to those he has defrauded. He doesn’t just pay back what he has taken; he pays it back fourfold. Zacchaeus’ response is truly repentance (see Important Terms). It marks a turning from one direction to go in another. The trajectory that Zacchaeus has turned from is one of self-gratification. Jesus recognizes that the new course that Zacchaeus has charted is one that follows in his footsteps, a course of self-denial and sacrifice.

The lost, and Zacchaeus is truly lost, cannot be found by

elevating themselves above everyone. Jesus, in response to Zacchaeus, declares that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham. He is now an heir to the promise of salvation that God made to the world through Abraham. Zacchaeus is another example of how Jesus is fulfilling his mission to

seek and save the lost.

Important Terms


Literally, this means ‘turning back’. It is widely used in Old Testament and subsequent Jewish literature to indicate both a personal turning away from sin and Israel’s corporate turning away from idolatry and back to YHWH. Through both meanings, it is linked to the idea of ‘return from exile’; if Israel is to ‘return’ in all senses, it must ‘return’ to yhwh.

This is at the heart of the summons of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In Paul’s writings it is mostly used for Gentiles turning away from idols to serve the true God; also for sinning Christians who need to return to Jesus (Wright, 314).

Son of man

In Hebrew or Aramaic, this simply means ‘mortal’, or ‘human being’; in later Judaism, it is sometimes used to mean ‘I’ or ‘someone like me’. In the New Testament the phrase is frequently linked to Daniel 7:13, where ‘one like a son of man’ is brought on the clouds of heaven to ‘the Ancient of Days’, being vindicated after a period of suffering, and is given kingly power. Though Daniel 7 itself interprets this as code for ‘the people of the saints of the Most High’, by the first century some Jews understood it as a messianic promise. Jesus developed this in his own way in certain key sayings which are best understood as promises that God would vindicate him, and judge those who had opposed him, after his own suffering (e.g. Mark 14:62). Jesus was thus able to use the phrase as a cryptic self-designation, hinting at his coming suffering, his vindication, and his God-given authority (Wright, 317).

Discussion Question

Read the text aloud. Then, read the text to yourself quietly. Read it slowly, as if you were very unfamiliar with the story.

  1. Who are the main characters in the story? What are they doing?

  2. What doesn’t make sense to you in this story?

  3. Read Luke 18:18-30. How is this story similar to Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus? How is it different?

  4. In 18:26 those who heard the conversation between the rich man and Jesus asked, “Then who can be saved?” In Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus Jesus declares that Zacchaeus has found salvation. Zacchaeus was a rich man, too. What did Zacchaeus do to prompt Jesus to declare that salvation had found his house? Most of us have found salvation through Jesus Christ and most of the time we are really good about the turning aspect of repentance. Zacchaeus not only turned from his current way of behavior but also offered restitution to those he had harmed. Think about your story of repentance. Might there be someone to whom you owe restitution?

  5. What does restitution look like in situations that do not involve money? How can you “repay” someone for the wrong that you have done against them?

  6. If you identify anyone to whom you might need to make restitution, take a few moments and begin to plan how you might make the relationship right.

Works Cited

Tom Wright, Luke for Everyone (London: Society for

Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 314.


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