Bible Readings and
(submitted by Dr Donald MacVicar, Session Clerk)
For each day of this month we will focus our Daily Readings on Luke Chapter 19 v 1-10. The account of Jesus visit to Jericho and the conversion of Zacchaeus. Like so much of Scripture there is so much meaning once we delve under the surface. I may suggest reading the entire ten verses each day before reading the study.
Saturday 1st June
Verse 1 “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through”
JESUS, this was no ordinary traveller who entered Jericho this particular day. This traveller, this visitor was none other than the only incarnate Son of God, the Mighty Everlasting God, the Creator of earth and the vastness of the heavens. At this point, God’s Son Jesus was close to completing His life’s Ministry in His sojourn on earth, the greatest mission of all time to bring salvation to the lost. And so He entered Jericho.
Prayer for the Annual Male Voice Choir Festival held in the Church this evening. Pray for Kenny Wilson taking the address.
Sunday 2nd June
“Jesus entered Jericho”
Jericho unlike many towns of the Bible still exists, a thriving community of 18,000 on the West Bank of the Jordan. It was an important staging post in biblical times between East and West. In Christ’s day it was a relatively affluent place, recognized for its balsam groves and water springs, an oasis in the desert. Jericho had a chequered past. In Old Testament record it was the first town invaded by Joshua after return from exile. Because of its idolatry, Joshua placed a curse on Jericho. (Joshua 6:26). The curse was fulfilled in times of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:34). Yet Jesus entered Jericho!
Prayer for Services today, led by Rev. Donald A MacQuarrie and Mr Hendry Robertson.
Monday 3rd June
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through”
Jesus was passing through. He did not intend to stay in Jericho that night. Jesus’s ultimate destination was Jerusalem, 18 miles distance, to attend the annual Passover feast. He maybe just wanted to keep going on His journey. Jesus would never pass through Jericho again. His walk to Jerusalem would have taken Him past Bethany, then the Mount of Olives close to where His earthly life was cruelly and unjustifiably ended at Calvary. Jesus passed through.
Read Matthew 6:5-15 where Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
Tuesday 4th June
“A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus”
Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. Jesus in His ministry on earth healed and saved so many. Most He touched are not named in the Scriptures. Some are named though, as is the case with Zacchaeus. Nicodemus was another notable seeker of Jesus. Nicodemus, a Pharisee who sought Jesus to be told by Him “You must be born again”. Read John 3 vv 1-21. Nicodemus was also a wealthy man, a convert who followed Jesus after this previous meeting with His Saviour.
Pray for the Women’s Bible Study as they meet each week.
Wednesday 5th June
Another wealthy man (Read Luke 18 vv 18-30) approached Jesus but in a different frame of mind than Nicodemus or Zacchaeus, as we shall see later. This man was rich, a ruler. His riches though were more important to him than anything else. More important than the eternal truths of Jesus. Jesus offered this misguided ruler the ‘treasure of heaven’ but he turned this, the greatest of offers down. How sad indeed. Luke 18 v 23.
Pray for this week’s prayer meetings, led by Donald MacVicar.
Thursday 6th June
Zacchaeus was an important man in Jericho. He was the chief tax collector, the head of the local Inland Revenue! Jericho was a good location for a taxman. A prosperous town on a trade route and with a thriving local industry of balsam production. Zacchaeus would not have personally collected taxes but would have co-ordinated the money before passing on the revenue to the Roman ruling authorities. Of course he would have kept a proportion of this money for himself, as he was in charge!
Pray for the Toddler Group, for all the children, parents and grandparents.
Friday 7th June
Because of this duplicity, tax collectors were not held in high regard. They would be considered traitors by the local populace in Jericho, the Jews who believed they were the lackeys for the Romans. Zacchaeus was unpopular, maybe even despised in the town. He would have been socially isolated. He was wealthy though but was he contented with his lot? Or was God starting to speak to him through pricking his conscience reminding him of his past dishonesties, all the tax-payers that he had fleeced?
Pray for Open Doors and the witness to the street and surrounds led by Bob Matheson and his team.
Saturday 8th June
V 3 “He wanted to see who Jesus was”
Zacchaeus, a lost soul, a man with a burning conscience knew OF Jesus. Jesus, this extraordinary person who held powers of healing and saving as evident in Judea and Galilee. He had a curiosity to see Jesus. God was working in this man’s soul. We already know though from the account of the rich ruler how hard it was for the materialistic rich to enter the kingdom of God. But Zacchaeus was seeking.
Read Psalm 142 as David prayed in earnest to God when in trouble.
Sunday 9th June
Verse 3 “Being a short man he could not see Jesus”
Zacchaeus had a problem. Keen to see Jesus, huge crowds gathered so much s that the sort of stature Zacchaeus could not see over them. Huge crowds gathered wherever Jesus was in these days. 25,000 gathered by the banks of the Lake of Galilee to hear Him. Huge crowds also gathered in the avenues of Jerusalem as He entered the Holy City for the last time. ‘Hosanna in the Highest’ they shouted. Days later the same excitable crowd cried ‘Crucify him, crucify him’. Crowds are fickle, people are fickle. Many in the Jericho crowd were fickle also, only interested in seeing Jesus as a ‘miracle worker’, a ‘stunt man’, but not Zacchaeus. He would not be deterred by his short stature.
Prayer for Rev. Douglas Horne taking the Service. Pray for members of the Praise Band and our organist who lead items of praise today.
Monday 10th June
Verse 4 “So he ran ahead”
I am reminded of a scene from the early 1960’s in school in Skye when we were told we would be granted a day off school as there was to be a royal visit to the island. King Olaf of Norway was passing through the village on his way north to see Dame Flora Macleod. Ordered to be on best behaviour the whole school were to gather together on one side of the road and wave to the King and Queen as the cortege passed by. Being the smallest in the school, two pals and I broke ranks for which we later received punishment. Fifty yards before the Royal car reached where the school had gathered we darted across the road to the other side to get a view of the Royals.
King Olaf noticed our action and it is remembered by all he only waved to the three of us, not the rest of the school on the other side of the road. Zacchaeus too knew the way that Jesus, the King of Kings was coming. Don’t always go with the crowd – even if you get punished for it!
Pray for the state of our nation – politically, spiritually and morally.
Tuesday 11th June
Verse 4 “He climbed a sycamore tree”
So Zacchaeus got himself into the best position to see Jesus. Sycamore trees often grow at roadsides. They are easy to climb as branches sprout out low down on the tree trunk. Zacchaeus therefore made himself conspicuous especially if it had been autumn or winter when the leaves had blown away. Imagine the thoughts of the Jericho natives seeing the head taxman up a roadside tree. But Zacchaeus HAD to see Jesus.
Pray for Sheila Murray, our secretary as she carries out all the necessary duties in the church with such willingness.
Wednesday 12th June
Verse 4 “Jesus was coming that way”
Zacchaeus knew Jesus was coming and knew his exact direction of travel down a particular street. Jesus entered this world born in a stable. Totally devoid of any pretence, Jesus walked from town to town. He wasn’t carried on a chariot, or a popemobile type of vehicle. He wasn’t tall that would make Him stand out. Remind ourselves of Jesus’ humility by prophetic words of Isaiah 53.
Pray for Bill Flett as he leads today’s Prayer meetings.
Thursday 13th June
Verse 5 “When Jesus reached the spot”
So Zacchaeus waited for Jesus to come – up a tree. David, the Psalmist going through personal torment of doubt, despair in Psalm 40 also described how he waited for God. “I waited for the Lord my God, and patiently did bear, at length to me he did incline, my voice and cry to hear”. David describes how God took him out of the pit in the ground. Zacchaeus story is of how God took Zacchaeus to Himself off the branch of a roadside tree. God rescues us from all situations.
Pray for the Nominating Committee as they meet this evening. Pray for God’s guidance.
Friday 14th June
Verse 5 “Jesus looked up”
Jesus stopped in his tracks. He took notice of this man up a tree; Zacchaeus of course had made huge effort to get there, to see Jesus, to meet Jesus. Hebrews 11, a chapter outlining the fundamental importance of faith in verse 6 reassures us of God, that “He rewards those who earnestly SEEK Him” And so was the situation of Zacchaeus developing this way.
Pray for those who do also earnestly SEEK Jesus but lack the assurance that He responds to prayer.
Saturday 15th June
Verse 5 “Jesus said to him”
Jesus in His earthly Ministry was a master of communication. He spoke directly with many people encouraging; correcting, reassuring, warning them. He spoke indirectly to many through parables and sermons describing the Kingdom of Heaven.
This same Lord we know from the Bible is the same yesterday, today and forever. We cannot expect to claim the benefit Zacchaeus received in Jesus speaking to him on a one to one basis but we can claim His promise even now as Job said. Job 33:14 “For God does speak – now one way; now another – though man may not perceive it”.
Pray for the Sunday School and for Iain Macdonald the Superintendant and all teachers. Pray that today’s picnic may go well in every way.
Sunday 16th June
Verse 5 “Zacchaeus, come down immediately”
So Jesus, the King of Kings stopped below the tree – looking up at Zacchaeus perched on a branch, Jesus CALL to Zacchaeus was pointed and urgent. “Come down immediately”. Note how Jesus called him by name. Jesus had never set eyes on Zacchaeus before. But isn’t it the case that already Zacchaeus name was written in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’. Read Revelation 13 v 8.
Pray for today’s Services. Pray in thankfulness for Rev. Douglas Horne leading today Services. This morning’s Service is the annual Prizegiving Service for the Sunday School.
Monday 17th June
Nathaniel from Cana was also called by Jesus, early in Jesus Ministry. Jesus called Nathaniel without previously knowing him either. ‘How do you know me?’ Nathaniel asked Jesus when they met. ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree. Jesus answered. Nathaniel’s name was also in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He went on to serve as a disciple and then as an effective witness to his Saviour Jesus after Jesus death, as a missionary to India it is believed.
Pray that we too may respond to God’s call and be effective witnesses for Him, whatever our situation.
Tuesday 18th June
Verse 5 “I must stay at your house today”
“I MUST stay” Jesus said. Not ‘I would like to stay’ or ‘can I stay at your house today’. This MUST is a story expression. Jesus of course operated under heavenly control from His Father. Zacchaeus was part of Jesus divine mission. No time to spare, no hours to waste. Jesus had to speak further with him over matters of truth. “I MUST stay at your house today”.
Pray for the Deacons’ Court, the Clerk, Treasurer, Fabric Convenor and all committees who carry the burden of the running of the church.
Wednesday 19th June
Verse 6 “So he came down at once”
Zacchaeus response was instant. From his undignified position he came down, at once. He jumped out of the tree. This selfish, corrupt, guilty, unhappy man there to face his very maker, his Saviour. The hymn of Horatious Bonar may describe Zacchaeus’ feelings on that very scene:-
‘I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Come unto me and rest
Lay down thou weary one lay down
Thy head upon my breast
I came to Jesus as I was
Weary and worn and sad
I found in Him a resting place and
He has made me glad’.
Pray for Ian Challinor who leads both Prayer meetings.
Thursday 20th June
Verse 6 “He welcomed him gladly”
Zacchaeus life turned on this encounter – in a dramatic fashion. No record is made of what happened to him following his dramatic conversion but one has to deduce that the power of this interaction with the incarnate Jesus would have had a lasting hold. At the same time as Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus gladly we are assured of the joy in heaven, Luke 15 v 7 ‘In the same way there will be rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents’.
Pray for today’s Gathering. Pray for all those who lead and attend the Gathering .
Friday 21st June
Verse 7 “All the people saw this”
This interaction at the sycamore tree should have been a remarkable witness for the power of Jesus. The huge crowds that gathered in Jericho would have followed Jesus down the road to the tree where Zacchaeus was. They would have seen and heard Jesus saving one sinner who was repenting. Maybe even one of these onlookers saw of Jesus’ grace and goodness though.
Pray for the Youth Group. Pray for its continuing success. Pray for good numbers and good fun. Pray for Sheila and her team who lead the Youth Group.
Saturday 22nd June
Verse 7 “They began to mutter”
The disapproval was general. These people grumbled. How miserable and deflating. How did this make Zacchaeus feel like? Jesus of course knew what was in the heart of man. Read John 2 v 23-24. ‘But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man’. There is a saying, ‘there is nothing quite as queer as folk!’ “The crowd began to mutter”.
Pray too for ‘those who mutter’ in this society. Pray for the doubters, the antagonists, the dismissives.
Sunday 23rd June
Verse 7 “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’”
Jesus in the previous chapter (Read Luke 18 v 9-14) told the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee looked down on everybody else and prayed about himself. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get”. Isn’t this Pharisee like the members of this muttering crowd.
Pray for today’s Services conducted by Rev. Bart Buell and Rev. Fraser Turner.
Monday 24th June
Verse 7 “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner”
Contrast the Pharisee with the tax collector who would not even look up to heaven in his guilt but beat his breast and said ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. Is this not a picture of the situation with the real life tax collector, Zacchaeus?
Pray for local health and social services here in Inverness. Pray for the Professionals who care for those who are ill, needy or addicted.
Tuesday 25th June
Jesus, our humble Saviour battled against the forces of self-righteousness, legalism and Pharasaical outlook as exemplified by this crowd who muttered against him – ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner’ they grumbled. Ultimately these were the forces, the people who would put Jesus to his death. Masked behind the veneer of religiosity the Apostle Paul describes his struggle which may have been similar to that of Jesus.
Ephesians 6 v 12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
Pray for today’s Word at One Service, the final one before the summer break. Pray for Bill Flett as he leads this mid-day Service.
Wednesday 26th June
Verse 8 “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord”
Zacchaeus stood up – does this mean that he had been prostrate before his Saviour or does it mean that for the first time in his adult life he had stood up in an honest upright position having been redeemed? I do not know. Zacchaeus direction in life was to change his values would change. Likely his career would change as he would now walk an upright life as described in Psalm 15 v 1-3 “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour now wrong and casts no slur on his fellow-man”.
Pray for today’s Prayer meetings that they will be a blessing. Alex Stephen leads today’s meetings.
Thursday 27th June
Verse 8 “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”.
There and then, convicted of his past sins in his dismal career his first reaction was to correct his faults. Half of his goods were to go to the poor and he promised a fourfold restitution to any whom he had defrauded. Contrast again the story of the rich ruler who would not impart with his fortune. Luke 18 v 22 “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”. The rich ruler walked away. Zacchaeus by contrast received the greatest gift, the promised treasure in heaven and followed Jesus.
Pray for the state of our country slipping into decadence and selfishness in certain areas. Pray that we would seek our ‘treasures in heaven’.
Friday 28th June
Verse 9 “Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house”. This is the greatest of all news. Zacchaeus has turned from sin to God in one dramatic day in Jericho, in one dramatic encounter with Jesus who was passing through the town. Not just this salvation came ‘to his house’. In this we believe that Zacchaeus’ conversion would be a huge blessing to the whole household – family and servants. Read Acts 16 v 30 “What must I do to be saved?” the jailer asked Paul and Silas. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you AND your household”.
Pray for forthcoming Communion weekend. Pray for the Kirk Session who meet tonight. Pray for Rev. Douglas Horne who will take the Preparatory and Thanksgiving Services. Pray assurance for any who are considering church membership.
Saturday 29th June
“This man too is a son of Abraham”
A son of Abraham will mean a true Jew, one who follows the faith of Abraham (Romans 4 v 12), not necessarily a linear descendant of him. Zacchaeus now penitent has become upright and a worthy son of the patriarch Abraham. A contrast to what his life had been prior to meeting Jesus. From now Zacchaeus would be worthy of aligning himself to the faith of his antecedent Abraham.
Pray for tomorrow’s Service. Pray for all preparations made in the Church for the Service. Pray we would also prepare our hearts, minds and souls as we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us.
Sunday 30th June
In closing these short studies on the account of Zacchaeus, the following thoughts capture the purpose of Jesus. Although Zacchaeus in his guilt wanted to see Jesus (v 3) it was Jesus who really sought him and it was Jesus who found him. In closing read the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15 v 1-7) which Jesus delivered to a crowd of sceptics. Jesus found this ‘lost sheep’ Zacchaeus and we are told of the rejoicing in heaven that this would receive.
Pray for Rev. Dr. Hugh Watt as he leads our Service. Pray for Dr. Watt in his own ministry and in his service as Interim Moderator for our congregation.