Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Gospel According to Zacchaeus - Grace for Shame - (2)

This is the second of three blog-posts on Zacchaeus, taken with permission from "Grace for Shame: The Forgotten Gospel" by John A. Forrester. The book is available through www.pastorsatticpress.com and I highly recommend it for ministry in today's world.

"We sense, too, that Zacchaeus climbed the tree not only to see but to be seen. Shame prompts hiding. It is when shamed people have the courage to expose themselves to the gaze of God that they discover the love of God. Then God's love is 'poured into our hearts' (Romans 5:5). Zacchaeus exposed himself in the tree, somehow knowing, trusting, that Jesus would not reject him. "He experiences the joy that accompanies every encounter between a depleted self and positive mirroring" (Pembrook, "Toward a Shame-Based Theology of Evangelism").

This is all to much for the crowd. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.

The muttering is negative gossip. Here is widespread public disapproval of Jesus' actions. Luke wants the reader to feel the weight of Jesus' counter-cultural approach. We can almost hear the derision in their voices.

Remember that shame is contagious. The shame of Zacchaeus now attaches to Jesus. In staying in Zacchaeus' home Jesus is squandering his own honor within the honor-shame rules of the community. True, Jesus lives by other rules, he is demonstrating a radically different honor-shame construct, but he will pay a price in the local context. This is the journey to Jerusalem and the cross. "He who forgives those we denounce must surely die. And Jesus died." Margaret G. Alter, "Human Shame and the Hospitality of God" Dialog, 36 (1997), 269

Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold."

Zacchaeus stood. There is a sense of solemnity and formality about this. It was fascinating for me to hear this passage preached by a Chinese brother. The shame-healing dynamics of this story were much more apparent to him, speaking out of his roots in a shame-oriented culture. He was especially taken by the verb "stood". Perhaps, for the first time, Zacchaeus stands tall. He stands in dignity.

(Continued in final part 3)

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