Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pictures from first half of 2009 & Life Update

OK, so seminary was really busy there toward the end, and now I'm in the ninth month of pregnancy, so I'm not going to feel too bad about not posting in so long. But since a picture is a worth a thousand words, here are the photos that tell the story, roughly, of our life for the past 6 months. Enjoy!

Jan to May 2009

BTW, our baby boy is due July 13th. Still deciding on a name. We are currently living in Fort Worth, but will move to Gatesville to be closer to the church that Barry pastors shortly after the baby is born. Barry just signed a contract today with Gatesville High School and will be their new Spanish teacher for the fall (as his second job -- he's a bivocational pastor). I'm proud of Barry and so thankful to God for providing for us in this way and answering our prayers. God is good!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Barry Bishop

Truths as Found in the Story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-8

The account of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-8 is a beloved and well-known story. Some are familiar with it because of the children’s song “Zacchaeus was a wee little man.” There are many colorful details in the story, unfortunately this has caused some to miss the main points of the account, namely, that Jesus came to seek and save the lost and also the repentant response of Zacchaeus to Jesus. A short examination of this passage will show that its truths have significant application for Christians today. First, some minor details will be discussed, followed by the main themes and application.

The setting of the story is this: Jesus is resolutely traveling to Jerusalem and to his passion on the cross. On the way he enters Jericho and crowds flock to him. Zacchaeus, a short, rich, chief tax collector (ρχιτελνης, only used once here), comes to see him. He climbs in a tree to see Jesus, which would have looked awkward for a man of wealth. These details make it easy to focus on Zacchaeus. However, Jesus is the one who looks to Zacchaeus and calls him by name (perhaps knowing his name supernaturally.) In other words, Jesus is the one seeking, for He tells Zacchaeus that He “must” go to his house. As typical of Jesus’ ministry, there are opponents who grumble when they hear that Jesus would eat with a notorious sinner like Zacchaeus. The response of Zacchaeus however, is the correct one. He receives Jesus “joyfully” (a theme in Luke), admits he has cheated others, and vows to give half of his possessions to the poor and four times to those he cheated. [1] This is repentance before the Lord that is evidence of faith. Jesus then declares Zacchaeus to be a son of Abraham. This is of course means a true, spiritual son by faith since Zacchaeus was already a Jew. Jesus then declares his mission, “to seek and save the lost” and shows that salvation is found in only Himself.

Unfortunately, one technical issue has to be discussed. Some like Evans believe that Zacchaeus was already a righteous man. This ignores the grumblings of the crowd. Based on the present tense of the Greek verbs used in v. 8, Evans believes that Zacchaeus was simply declaring what he already customarily did, that is, was giving half his goods to the poor, was paying back four times anything he (accidentally) took from others.[2] This is simply wrong for it ignores the context. Jesus said today salvation had come, not previously. Further, the Greek allows for Zacchaeus to have a change of heart which leads to a (near future) change of action.[3] Jesus also states that Zacchaeus was lost.

Two main themes from this passage are significant for Christians today. First, Jesus is the one who came to seek and to save the lost. If there is hope for a notorious sinner like Zacchaeus there is hope for others like him. Christians should realize that Jesus is able to save even the worst of sinners and that many times he seeks out such notable ones (like Paul). The application is that Christians should not write off a person simply because they have a messy, sinful life. Jesus is powerful to save them and change their lives just as He is able to save the moralistic sinner as well. Christians need to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all people, regardless of their backgrounds knowing that God is powerful to save (cf. Rom. 1:16).

Second, true repentance is necessary for true faith. This biblical understanding of repentance is necessary for Christians. Zacchaeus was a rich man who was about to become poor. He would give away half (!) his possessions and four times back to those he cheated which was probably many since he was rich. Unlike the rich ruler of Luke 18:18f, Zacchaeus was willing to leave money behind to follow Jesus. A biblical understanding of repentance is necessary or else cheap grace, Lordless “salvation”, and false conversions will be perpetuated in America. The Lordship of Jesus starts for a Christian at conversion and continues to death. Wherever Jesus leads, whatever He commands, the Christian must do. There has to be a true change of heart, like Zacchaeus.

One last thought is that Jesus is the hero of the Zacchaeus story. Anyone who would focus on Zacchaeus misses the point of the passage. Zacchaeus was the sinner, Jesus was the seeker. How beautiful of a picture it is that Jesus called him by name and declared him a son of Abraham. This too is the greatest joy of any Christian, to be known by Jesus and to be in the family of God.

[1]Robertson says the condition in the Greek assumes Zacchaeus has cheated others. A.T Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT (Nashville, TN: B & H, 2000), 167.

[2]Craig Evans, Luke: NIBC (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990), 280.

[3]Bock allows for “present future” use of the verbs. Darrell L. Bock, Luke: IVPNTC (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1994), 307.