Good morning and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Yesterday we saw Jesus talking to the rich young ruler and we asked the question, “how much would you give to be trained by the very best?” Today we meet Zacchaeus the Tax Collector and Jesus teaches about servants and subjects in the parable of the ten minas. We ask “are we servants or subjects?”
Yesterday Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give to the poor. In today’s passage, Luke 19:1-27 we see Jesus talking with Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector. After a short conversation Zacchaeus gives half of everything that he had to the poor and he promises to repay four times anything that he had taken dishonestly. Jesus remarked, “today salvation has come to this house.”
Jesus said, “Sell everything” to the Rich Young ruler, but Zacchaeus only gives half away… Either Jesus is inconsistent or this is about much more than money!! No, this is about our hearts and the way we approach Jesus.
So, picture the scene: Zacchaeus has met Jesus. He is making good on his promise and giving money to the poor. Those he’s cheated are coming forward, the people are crowding around Zacchaeus and Jesus. This man has been radically changed, just who is this Jesus? There are whispers in the crowd. Could this be the one we have been waiting for? Is this the time, is this the Messiah, could this be our all conquering king?
Jesus takes the opportunity to teach by telling the crowd a story, V12-14
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work, until I come back.’ “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ Luke 19:12-14
This happened! This really happened! 30 years before Jesus told this parable, Archelaus, after the death of his father, King Herod, went to Rome to be made king over Judea. A delegation of 50 Jews went to Rome at the same time to try and stop that from happening.
In the story we have two types of people, servants and subjects.
The servants were close to the master. They served him, what he said dictated their whole existence. It no longer mattered what they wanted, they lived to serve as part of his household.
The subjects on the other hand hated him, they were his fellow citizens, they didn’t want the master to be in charge, they liked their independence, they had opinions and preferences and were willing to try and dictate the future. Jesus was amazing, they hung on his words but his teaching and his commands disturbed their way of doing things.
Today’s questions for us to think on, ‘are we servants or subjects?’
The rich young ruler yesterday was a subject… he wanted to be near Jesus, to ask his question, but the challenge Jesus made to him revealed his heart. He wasn’t ready to lay down his life and follow Jesus. He wanted his life to stay the same. Today Zacchaeus is ready to change. He adopts the position of a servant and his life is changed forever.
You see, in the story Jesus tells, he is the man of noble birth, he has gone away to heaven and he will be crowned king – the king – the king of kings, the lord of lords. He has given gifts to all of us. One day he will return and we will have to give an account for how we have used all the gifts and talents that we have been given.
Have we like the servants, made the most of the opportunities that he has given us? Have we allowed our lives to be disturbed, putting our gifts and talents to work for him and his kingdom? Or have we received gifts and blessings in our lives and carried on with our own lives, working for ourselves? Wanting to keep hold of our stuff or wanting to maintain our freedom and independence?
Zacchaeus may have only given half of his possessions away but his heart was changed. He allowed Jesus into his life, his view of what was once his, was transformed, once he was looking out for number one, now he gave away what he accumulated.
If we are going to grow this year as we engage with the Grow project we will need to allow Jesus to disturb our lives and the things that block our progress will need to be removed. Our hearts will need to change, we will need to take all that has been invested in us and put it to work. We will need to make a decision to become servants rather than subjects. No one else can do this for us! It’s just us and Jesus, cheered on by our friends!
Jesus, thank you that those who became your servants went on to become your friends. Thank you that you make plain that we have a choice, to do things our way or to do things your way. Help us to see that choice in our everyday, ordinary lives and to always choose you. Amen.
READING: Luke 19:1-27
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. “Put this money to work,” he said, “until I come back.”
‘But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, “We don’t want this man to be our king.”
‘He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
‘The first one came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.”
‘“Well done, my good servant!” his master replied. “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
‘The second came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned five more.”
‘His master answered, “You take charge of five cities.”
‘Then another servant came and said, “Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.”
‘His master replied, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?”
‘Then he said to those standing by, “Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.”
‘“Sir,” they said, “he already has ten!”
‘He replied, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.”’