Epigraph, preface and acknowledgement

6 04 2011

 

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10)

If Luke had provided an epigraph* for his writing, I think this would have been it.  Strange that it comes such a long way through the book I know, but it does summarise his theme very neatly.  It identifies who Jesus is,  describes his target audience, and presents his mission statement all in one sentence.

The beginning of Luke’s gospel, his preface, declares his intent to present a truthful and orderly account.  He is the only Gentile in the cast of Jewish New Testament writers and so may have had personal reasons for identifying and championing the outsider, the “lost”.  He shows how Jesus includes those who are typically treated as outsiders by the religious establishment – women, shepherds, Samaritans, tax collectors, the poor.

Now all this rattled the cages of the religious leaders –  “But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” (Luke 5:30).   They wanted the outsiders to be left outside; they, the insiders, were the ones who were living God’s way after all.  But, once again, Jesus challenges assumptions – “Jesus answered them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.'” (Luke 5:31-32)

Zacchaeus is one such “scum” – “The people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled.”  But Zac recognises that he has been out of sorts with God and that he has cheated and defrauded the citizens of Jericho. When he meets Jesus, he determines to change and live out his new life in his community.  The lost has been found.

~

*Acknowledgement – I would like to thank my Ceefax friend TA who reminded me of the word I was looking for.

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