Summary: Jesus’ treatment of Zaccheus and the tax collector’s response is a model of God’s restorative justice.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE #1: Zaccheus Pays Reparations
Restorative Justice Series #1
Trinity United Methodist Church, Providence, RI
September 2, 2001
Rev. Anne Grant
Introduction to scripture:
Has anybody here climbed a tree recently?
It’s not something adults do very often.
Children love the story of Zaccheus, because he’s a wee little man.
He has the same problem children do when there’s a parade:
They can’t see over all the adults, and they just hope someone tall will lift them up
on their shoulders, or let them come to the front of the crowd.
But nobody would have made a space for Zaccheus,
because everybody hated him.
Zaccheus was a tax collector, and no ordinary tax collector.
He was the head tax collector for that area.
Tax collectors were regarded as worst kind of sinners . . .The lowest liars and cheats--Unworthy to be called children of Abraham, who was the father of the Jewish people.
The Jews had some good reasons for hating tax collectors.
Tax collectors worked for the enemy, for the occupying forces of Rome.
To be a tax collector one had to bid for the franchise
Like you would bid at an auction with the franchise going to the highest bidder
In order for him to regain his investment he had to increase the tax.
This gained tax collectors the reputation for being notoriously corrupt
They also became quite wealthy at expense of their fellow Jews.
Tax collectors were collecting taxes for a foreign power
By this activity they were supporting Israel’s occupation by an ingodly empire.
Tax collectors were traitors to their community and their God.
And because they worked with Gentiles, they were considered unclean.
No religious Jew would associate with them.
So Zaccheus was pretty lonely.
No one would make space for him to see Jesus.
And so he runs ahead to a tree and climbs it.
In the mideast, it was unusual and undignified to see a grown man run,
especially a government official, But he runs and he climbs a tree— just like a child,
which is just the way Jesus wants us to come to him—like a child.
Watch what Jesus does, and watch how Zaccheus responds.
1. NARRATOR: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was so short. So Zaccheus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see better, because Jesus was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him:
2. JESUS: Zacchaeus! Hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!
3. NARRATOR: Zaccheus hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said,
4. TOWNSPERSON 1: He’s gone to visit that sinner!
5. TOWNSPERSON 2: What did he do that for?
6. NARRATOR: But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
7. ZACCHEUS: Half of everything I own I will give to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone of anything, I will pay it back four times over.
8. NARRATOR: Then Jesus said to Zaccheus: