This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Good Samaritan rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program. It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:
· A historical context for understanding the Bible story.
· A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.
· The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.
In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation. This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts. It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.
It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.
Note: This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders. Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)
· Jesus came to save the lost.
· God loves and forgives us no matter what mistakes we have made.
· When we are sorry, we want to make up for the things we have done wrong.
· Jesus asks to live in our hearts.
· When we choose to follow Jesus, God changes our whole life.
· If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.
· Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.
Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud. Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.
Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study. Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.
Background on Luke
Luke is one of the Four Gospels. The book itself does not identify the author but tradition traces authorship of both Luke and Acts to a physician who was a friend of Paul’s (Culpepper, 4). Luke was probably a Gentile who knew Greek well and was quite familiar with the OT and Jewish practices (Culpepper, 9). The writing of the Gospel is dated to the mid-eighties AD.
Luke’s gospel is similar in form to ancient biographies. It contains seven main sections as indicated below (Culpepper, 10).
Luke 1:1-4 The Prologue
Luke 1:5-2:52 The Infancy Narrative
Luke 3:1-4:13 Preparation for the Ministry of Jesus
Luke 4:14-9:50 The Ministry in Galilee
Luke 9:51-19:27 The Journey to Jerusalem
Luke 19:28-21:38 The Ministry in Jerusalem
Luke 22:1-24:53 The Passion and Resurrection Narratives
“The Lukan Jesus is compassionate, a friend to outcasts. Luke also relates Jesus to the history of Israel, the Scriptures, contemporary world history, and the unfolding of God’s redemptive purposes in human history. Jesus is the Savior sent to seek and to save the lost” (Culpepper, 4). Some of the many titles used for Jesus in Luke are:
The story of Zacchaeus is found only in Luke, a gospel which is concerned with the outcast and unloved in society. Zacchaeus is the last outcast that Jesus encounters before going into Jerusalem. It is a story about salvation. For Luke, being “saved” as we will see with Zacchaeus is not limited to a private conversion of one person’s soul. Fred Craddock argues that Zacchaeus’ “salvation has personal, domestic, social, and economic dimensions . . . the whole of life is affected by Jesus’ ministry, a foretaste of the complete reign of God” (220).
It is helpful also to note connections or similarities to other stories in Luke. For instance, the stories about Jesus and the rich man (Luke 18:18-30) and Jesus and Levi (5:27-32) have some similarities to the story of Zacchaeus. Also Zacchaeus’ story follows directly after the story of the healing of the blind beggar. There are several connecting threads as well in these two stories of “healing” (Culpepper, 357).
Note the movement and sense of urgency conveyed in this story through all the active verbs: entered, passing through, ran ahead, climbed, hurry down. Jesus is moving urgently toward Jerusalem and Zacchaeus is excited and overjoyed at seeing Jesus and then being honored by him (Culpepper, 357).
Interesting Words/Phrases/Ideas (using NRSV)
· Zacchaeus means innocent or clean.
· Tax collector: Culpepper says that “In Luke, tax collectors function as the prototypical outcasts – those whom Jesus befriends” (356). They contracted with Roman authorities to collect required taxes and paid the agreed upon amount in advance. Anything they collected over the contracted amount was theirs to keep. Abuse of the system and dishonesty was common. As a result, the Jews hated the tax collectors (Culpepper, 356-357).
· V.3-4 It was rather undignified for an adult male to run and climb a tree. We see Zacchaeus’ strong desire to see and know Jesus.
· V. 3-4 “A sycamore was a large evergreen tree with large, low branches [which] produced an inferior type of fig that was consumed by the poor” (Culpepper, 357).
· V. 5 Jesus declares that he must stay with Zacchaeus – a divine imperative (Culpepper, 358). It is part of the divine plan. It also demonstrates Jesus’ pattern of ministering to those who are lost, outcast, unclean and “points to his true identity” (Culpepper, 359).
· V. 8 Zacchaeus declares his intentions to make restitution to those he has hurt. He offers to follow the strictest of the laws found in Exodus 22:1, Leviticus 5:16 and Numbers 5:7 (Culpepper, 358)
· V.9 Jesus declares that salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ house including the family and servants as well as Zacchaeus himself – “the concept of household salvation is an important one for Luke” (Craddock, 220). Jesus also confirms “the change that has occurred in Zacchaeus” – God has done a great and miraculous thing in raising up a son of Abraham out of the sinful tax collector (Culpepper, 359).
· V. 10 “the lost” is a rare term that we see also in the parables of the sheep, coin and the prodigal son (Craddock, 220). As discussed in the overview, the idea of salvation was not for Luke simply a private conversion but it affected the whole of life. This verse reminds us of who Jesus is and why he is here.
How are the Gospel’s themes played out in these particular passages?
1. God’s Redemptive Purposes: in verse 5 Jesus says that he must come to Zacchaeus’ house as if it has already been decided. Also in verse 10 Luke “reminds his readers that Jesus fulfills Moses and the prophets” (Culpepper, 359).
2. Salvation for all alike: Salvation is for even the most hated sinners – the tax collector!
3. Blessings of Poverty and the Dangers of Wealth: Luke surprises us hear by having a rich man who is saved and changes his life.
4. Table Fellowship: Jesus goes to stay at Zacchaeus’ house.
5. The Role of a Disciple: Note Zacchaeus’ desire to see Jesus, his hospitality towards him and his voluntary restitution. Zacchaeus’ response “is itself evidence of the radicality of grace and the power of Jesus’ good news to him (Craddock, 219).
Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop. As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces. Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.
Jesus came to save the lost.
God loves and forgives us no matter what mistakes we have made.
When we are sorry, we want to make up for the things we have done wrong.
Jesus asks to live in our hearts.
When we choose to follow Jesus, God changes our whole life.
Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour. Have they been answered? Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?
Close the Bible study with a prayer.
Craddock, Fred. “Luke.” Interpretation. James Luther Mays, et al. editors. (Louisville, John Knox Press, 1990). (pp. 1-12, 21-37).
Culpepper, R. Alan. “Luke.” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IX. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995). (pp.3-37 and 49-67).