We are studying Luke19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus, for Sunday, March 24. [Study notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we could consider before or in class:
Have we heard this story before? Where? When? What images do we associate with this story? Where did those images come from? (E.g., illustrations in a book, a movie or film clip, …) What impressions or associations do those experiences and images create for us? What effect does that seem to have on the way we read this scripture? (E.g., do we think of Zacchaeus as a “Bible times character,” as an animated vegetable à la Veggie Tales, as someone like us, … )
In vv2 and 3, we find out that Zacchaeus is a “chief tax collector,” “rich,” “trying to see who Jesus was,” and “short of stature.” Based on these descriptions, what do we feel we know about Zacchaeus? Why?
What do we see as Zacchaeus’ positive or sympathetic features or qualities? Why? What do we see as his negative or less positive features? Why? If he were a character in a movie, would we be “rooting for him,” or not – would he be a hero, or a villain, or neither? Or is it hard to decide? Why is this, do we think?
Are there any ways Zacchaeus seems similar to us? What are they? Why? Any ways Zacchaeus seems different from us? Again, what are they? Why? How do we feel about this?
On the whole, would we say we feel “close to Zacchaeus” in any way? Or not? Why is that? How does our feeling about this character affect our understanding of this scripture, do we think? Why?
In v5, Jesus looks up and addresses Zacchaeus by name. What does this tell us about Jesus? What does it tell us about Jesus’ relationship to Zacchaeus? Why do we say that?
What do we think it means that Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home? What would be good about that? What would not be good about that? Why do we say that? If someone invited themselves to our home, would we be more inclined to say “yes” or to say “no”? Why? What insight does that shed on this scripture for us? What does it show us about ourselves?
In v6, Zacchaeus responds to Jesus’ invitation immediately. In v8, Zacchaeus announces a large financial gift to the poor. Why? What do we think is Zacchaeus’ motivation? What is our evidence for this? Or, why do we think this?
Does Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus teach us anything? Does Zacchaeus’ response to others, “all who saw it” (v7), teach us anything? What? (E.g., is Zacchaeus someone to imitate in any way? What way?) Why do we say this?
Who is seeking whom in this story, do we think? (That is, is Jesus seeking Zacchaeus? Is Zacchaeus seeking Jesus? Are they seeking each other? Is there any other option?) How is the seeker doing the seeking?
Who finds whom in this story? How does that happen?
What difference does it make how we answer this question? Why is that? Is what happens in this story similar to anything that happens today, in any way? How?