Luke 19:1-10

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

I strongly suggest that you begin your exploration of this parable by listening to Tracy's telling of it on because she has captured major dimensions of its character as a story.

The first episode is fast-moving to give a sense of Zacchaeus' internal excitement at the prospect of seeing Jesus which culminates in his running ahead and climbing a tree. Zacchaeus being "short of stature" invites a smile. All the short people in the audience, including all the children, will immediately identify with Zacchaeus.

In episode two, Jesus' words to Zacchaeus are invitational. There is no sense of judgment or critique, only surprise by the storyteller. "Zacchaeus, come on down!" is a reversal of expectations. It should be spoken with lots of energy. When you tell the story, locate Zacchaeus up in the tree and say Jesus' words as addressed to him, and then motion as Zacchaeus comes down from the tree. All is happy and surprising in the first two episodes of the story.

The crowd, however, rightly grumbles. The assumption is that there will have been many in the audiences of those who first heard the story who would also be grumbling. They probably responded sympathetically to the crowd's negative response.

As you tell the story you will have to decide where Zacchaeus is located when he makes his speech to Jesus. Is it in front of the crowd as a response to their critique, and a kind of defense? Or is it at his house? The issue is whether or not you tell this as Zacchaeus reporting on his prior practice, or whether this is a vow that he is taking in his house to indicate what he's going to do in the future. Your decision will also impact the tone you use for Zacchaeus' speech.

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