Prof. Brian Hull – “Knowing the Text”
“Jesus entered Jericho and made His way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’ Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.
But the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled. Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’ Jesus responded, ‘Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.’” - Luke 19:1-10
The story begins with Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, encountering Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector. In the initial exchange Jesus commits to going to Zacchaeus’ house. The crowd of religious people do not like this and complain that Jesus is going to the house of a “sinner.” Jesus goes ahead and ends the passage by saying, “For the Son of Man has come to seek out and save the lost.”
Jesus is quoting from Ezekiel 34:11-16 specifically and is in general referring to Ezekiel 34 as a whole. Ezekiel 34 is God’s judgment on His own people for not being “good shepherds.” In this story we find Zacchaeus, a Jew, scattered and lost and God’s people extending judgment on him instead of working to heal him and help him. Jesus’ message is clear: “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out…I will seek the lost…”
Jesus knew the text! Knowing Scripture guided Jesus’ actions and His priorities in choosing to care for people over remaining clean. If Jesus knew Scripture and lived from it, so too must we prioritize knowing and living Scripture as we follow Christ.