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May 28 Gathering: Zacchaeus

Bible Stories for Grown-Ups Chapter 5

It’s one of the oddest stories in the New Testament: Jesus enters the ancient village of Jericho enroute to Jerusalem, where he will soon be tried and executed as an enemy of the state. While passing through, he encounters a tax collector named Zacchaeus who, because of his short stature, had to climb a tree to see what all the fuss was about.

Whatever the reason he climbed the tree, the diminutive extortionist has a change of heart when he meets Jesus and pledges to give half of his assets to the poor and to return any money he stole with 400% interest.

On the surface, it seems to be a story about repentance: Zacchaeus feels “convicted” about the wrong he has done and decides to make things right. But it’s also a story about reparations. In realizing the wrong he has done, Zacchaeus determines to not just repay what he has stolen, but to restore the fabric of his community.

It’s a massive turn from the story just a couple chapters earlier when a rich young ruler goes away sad after Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give the money to the poor. So what exactly is the point?

This week our New Wineskins study of Bible Stories for Grown-Ups gives us a 2-for-1 with a discussion not only of the story of Zacchaeus but also how the parable of the rich young ruler relates to the message the writer of Luke is trying to get across. We’ll dig into the difference between being sorry for committing harm and actually doing something to reverse the harm, and how that might relate to Jesus’s message of the kingdom of heaven.

Join us this Sunday, May 28, in the New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub powered by Zoom as we talk about Zacchaeus as model for modern reparations movements.

6:00pm ET: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm ET: Presentation & conversation begin

Click here to view this week’s video

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Special announcement!

Bible Stories for Grown-Ups author Josh Scott will join us LIVE during our June 25 gathering to answer your questions and dig even deeper into the interpretive lenses that inform the book. Mark your calendar now and be sure to join us as we welcome Josh back to New Wineskins!

Join us every week for a new discussion!

  • Sunday, April 23: Introduction
  • Sunday, April 30: Chapter 1 – Noah’s Ark
  • Sunday, May 7: Chapter 2 – The Binding of Isaac
  • Sunday, May 14: Chapter 3 – Jonah
  • Sunday, May 21: Chapter 4 – The Parable of the Talents
  • Sunday, May 28: Chapter 5 – Zacchaeus
  • Sunday, June 4: Chapter 6 – Healing the Blind Man
  • Sunday, June 11: Postscript – Where do we go from here?
  • Sunday, June 18: What have we learned and why does it matter?
  • Sunday, June 25: Josh Scott visits New Wineskins!

Bible Stories for Grown-Ups is available through several booksellers. Here are some links to the most popular sites:

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Feature image: A sycamore fig tree in Jericho, Israel, c. 2019 (Photo by Joe Webb)

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