Episode 025 – Zacchaeus Pt 1: Climb a Tree

Key Passage(s): Luke 19:1-4

We’re kicking off a series on Zacchaeus from Luke 19 where over the course of several weeks, we’re going to look at this story from a number of different angles. In this particular teaching, we look at Zacchaeus’ desire to change and what he had to overcome in order to have an encounter with Jesus. It’s going to be quite a ride as this electric story is about so much more than just a wee little man.

Discussion Questions

  • What’s your biggest takeaway from the teaching?
  • How have you traditionally understood the Zacchaeus story?
  • Where do you long to have change in your life? Is it something you desire to become better at? Is it something that needs to go from your life?
  • What’s keeping you from pursuing this change? Shame? Fear? Not knowing where to begin?
  • Like Zacchaeus, how can you put yourself in a position to encounter the desired change – i.e. What tree do you need to climb?
  • How will you begin walking this out over this next week?
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  1. Gregory Pellegrino July 24, 2018 at 4:28 am - Reply

    I need help with slowing down with drinking…

    • Ellie DeShane July 24, 2018 at 7:27 am - Reply

      God wants you to drink deeper into His word.
      God will bless you with the strength to not only slow down but put a complete stop to drinking from the cup that the devil is giving you.

      Father God, Gregory has this desire,SoLord help him to see that only Your living water is what he should be drinking. Bless him with true friends that will hold him into accountable action. Put him on the potters wheel and reshape him into a true vessel to become useful in Your Kingdom. Amen

    • Vicki July 24, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

      Gregory, I’m so glad you reached out. With this problem, it’s important to journey with others. I have been involved with Celebrate Recovery for many years. It’s a Christ centered 12 step program for all sorts of hurts and habits. There are thousands of local groups. Search online for Celebrate Recovery and click on Group locator. Warm regards.

      • Brad Gray August 3, 2018 at 5:21 pm - Reply

        Yep, I would totally agree with Vicki’s response. Community is essential and Celebrate Recovery is fabulous!

    • Lori Briesemeister July 27, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Greg, I don’t know what the depth of your drinking entales, my son Eric is at a facility right now for a month to stop drinking. No one sets out with a goal in life to have a problem with drinking I will pray for you to have the love & support & understanding to learn what you can do to set alcohol away from your life. The beauty of God is he climbs those mountains with us if we allow Him too. May the Lord bless you & keep you, may His face shine upon you & be gracious to you, may His counteness be upon you & give you HIS peace. Amen

  2. WJS July 24, 2018 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Thank you Brad,
    I know I’m going to enjoy this series. I haven’t been a follower of Jesus the Christ for very long but there’s something inside of me saying the Bible has so much more to say and teach us lying beneath the scriptures.


    • Brad Gray August 3, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Indeed. There’s so much below the surface!

  3. Ellie DeShane July 24, 2018 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Thank you for once again taking a story from the word and digging deeper into it. Can’t wait to walk along side of you while you point out the many things that I have over looked for years.
    Now its time for me to climb up and know that no matter what excuses I have used God loves me, for God desires for me to seek Him more.

  4. Steve Kistler July 24, 2018 at 9:56 am - Reply

    After hearing this teaching and reflecting on the past year, I think that this was what I was doing on the Israel trip last May. Here is a question for you. Do you think Jesus acceptance of Matthew as his disciple was something that Zaccheus would have known and could that have influenced him to seek Jesus out as the source of the change he was seeking?

    • Lori Briesemeister July 27, 2018 at 8:02 am - Reply

      Ditto that question. I have often seen how God uses the circle of influence of other followers .

    • Brad Gray August 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      That’s a great question, Steve. I’ll answer it in the final episode.

  5. Vicki July 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your insightful teaching Brad!

  6. Tru Jackson July 24, 2018 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Where do you long to have change in your life?
    Career, finances, and marriage.
    What’s keeping you from pursuing this change? Not knowing where to begin!
    Thanks for this series. Looking forward to the weeks ahead.

  7. Laura July 25, 2018 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Loved this teaching!

  8. Sue Christian July 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Wow almost 20 minutes and it felt like 5. Wrote so much in my Bible on just 4 verses. Not sure where I will write next week! Fabulous and as always I bless God and you.

  9. Sue Christian July 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Brad I have a question the more I thought about your explanation of Zaccheus not be small in size but more about being an outcast and being pushed back in the crowd. If he was the chief tax collector would not that have been a bad idea for the people in town paying the taxes to treat him so poorly? Would they be concerned he would tax them more if he was “pushed” to the back?

    • Brad Gray August 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Great question, Sue. I’ll answer it in the last episode.

  10. JasonD July 26, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Brad, thank you for going in depth on this story. I would have missed all the important things Luke was trying to tell us by simply reading “run” and “climbed a tree” and not thinking anything significant about it.

    • Brad Gray August 3, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Grateful you’re finding these new discoveries helpful, Jason.

  11. Karl & Holly July 27, 2018 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Brad, great teaching. After last year’s IBC conference I read Luke repeatedly and noticed a theme in chapters 18 & 19. Jesus encounters and elevates different marginalized people. Your teaching helped me tie in the rich observation of Zacchaeus passionate heart desire to connect with Jesus (this is a consistent theme in the other stories in 18 & 19). Thank you for the encouraging words.

  12. Roxanne Bushen July 27, 2018 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks for further insight into this story.

  13. Brandon Kinsey August 1, 2018 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Well, that will hit you right in the feels. Didn’t realize the Holy Spirit was bald. Thanks, Brad for revealing more truth. I have to go now and find my tree so I can encounter Jesus more intimately.

  14. Eric Snider August 9, 2018 at 6:09 am - Reply

    I find no reference in Kittels or others to the Greek meaning short of social status. It actually seems to me that had Luke omitted the phrase ‘of stature’ that your case for him being considered ‘least’ socially would be stronger (“he who is least in the kingdom is greater than he”). Luke adding ‘of age/stature’ seems to me to eliminate the option of lesser social status. And does the traditional view diminish any of the other beautiful and challenging points that you brought forth? Wonderful teaching. Thanks for helping me ‘see’ more clearly!

    • Brad Gray August 10, 2018 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Eric, thank you for your comments. Gary M. Burge, a brilliant New Testament scholar, discusses the usage of this Greek word in his book “Encounters With Jesus.” And I don’t think the traditional view diminishes anything. I just think there may be more to Zacchaeus being “short,” and I unpack that in upcoming episodes 🙂

  15. sarieke August 9, 2019 at 5:08 am - Reply

    I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful teaching on Zaccheus. Two weeks ago I held my first sermon in church and from the moment my pastor asked me, I had the name Zaccheus in mind (in the summer we do bible character preachings).

    Then over the course of time came three wonderfully, divinely orchestrated confirmations that Zaccheus was indeed the person I should be preaching about (and as God wanted to give me that Fatherly wink, it so happened that after the service someone came up to me, he is scheduled to preach next week, and he said ‘I wanted to preach on Zaccheus as well, but somehow, something in my spirit said I should take a different biblical character, I now know why, because God wanted you to have Zaccheus).

    Something else that I want to say out loud.. someone in the comments mentioned addiction.. I struggle with the same, so badly, it has gotten worse since I gave my life to Christ two years ago, and I know this is not the life that God intended me to have.

    I have absolutely no idea how to get God involved in this… He has been such a great redeemer and restorer in so many parts of my life already, I am maybe the biggest testimony walking on this earth, oozing with His grace, He has done so so so so much for me! I deserved death, a thousand times over. And He gave me life.

    I don’t understand why this addiction is still ‘alive’ and kickin’. Is my faith too little? Am I doing something wrong? Is it satanic attack? Why is this such a thorn in my thie… I want nothing more than to be freed from this, and I am so ready to testify that also in this area in my life God is ultimately My King and to give God the glory for it all, because I CAN NOT DO THIS MYSELF.

    I am so glad I scrolled down to read the comments, because someone mentioned Celebrate Recovery. I had heard of this through someone who leads a group in the United States. I always sort of looked down on that, I saw it as a weakness, and I felt too good for something like that, I am not that much addicted, I thought. I am ashamed to ask for help. Ashamed to let others know I can’t do this on my own..

    But weakness is not a bad thing, according to the Word of God.
    In my weakness He will be strong, right? I am so scared though..

    I am so happy to find out that CR is available in my country as well, and not even too far away from my hometown. I reached out to someone from their office this morning and I am excited to join the group, starting in September.

    Just wanted to share. Thank you for reading.
    Be blessed and beyond.

    • Brad Gray August 11, 2019 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing all of this! And I’m thrilled you’re going to join CR. I believe so much in this program, and I pray God meets you as you go through it.

  16. sarieke August 12, 2019 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Thanks so much Brad, for your reply. somehow you knowing about me going there makes me feel seen, or something. Or supported. Thank you, brother.

  17. Johnny D Brown March 10, 2022 at 8:41 am - Reply

    I’ve read about people battling addiction, sickness and a host of other things as well, sin is a horrible thing! But my friends I have some good news for you if you have faith in Christ and confessed your sins and asked the Lord to help you and he hasn’t yet??? Your in the purging furnace of God and when he’s done with you and pulls you out of the furnace , oh my brothers and sisters you won’t be able to hardly recognize yourself. The strength and knowledge you will have will be upmost amazing 🤩

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