Sermon Review. Family Christian Center. Pastor Wayne Northup. 05.01.2011

I have not reviewed a sermon from the Family Christian Center in a while, but it is good to take some time to do so. As it were, this was…a curious sermon to listen to and review. The sermon is called “Testimony of a tax collector”. What it essentially is, is 41 minutes of imaginative speculation. It is 41 minutes of a loose retelling of the story of Zacchaeus, rife with anachronisms, historical inconsistencies [I'm not sure he knows what a chief tax collector does]  biological inconsistencies, [blind jewish man had blue eyes],  allusions to the physical “hotness” of the characters in the story, [specifically when Zacchaeus hits on the woman who had the issue of blood, asking her out on a date] and just a lot of other stuff. The story follows a simple outline. Zacchaeus gets up, goes out to collect taxes from the hard-to-collect-from and  meets four characters before the miracles happened to them [blind man who was healed, demon possessed man who was exorcised, woman who bled for many years, child who died] He doesn’t collect money from them, but gives them all a month to get their finances in order. A month later, he meets all our characters, post Christ-healing, and as they all invariably point him to Jesus, telling him “their story”. that would be his motivation for climbing up the sycamore tree in the first place.

Pastor Wayne says that he cannot prove that that was how it all went down, but that he likes to think it happened that way. He closes the story with this  “Is the story of your life driving people to chase down a street, to climb a tree, and to see our Savior, our healer, our Lord, our Master? Is the story of your life driving people to run to Jesus? Because Zacchaeus wouldn’t have been saved in the story that I told, without somebody talking and sharing their story of life change. Friends, Fort McMurray can be won by simply the people that showed up here tonight, if your story, and your life will drive people towards the Savior. Thank you Jesus”


I wasn’t a fan of this at all. It was, essentially, 41 minutes of made up story. It reminds me of a book I read once, on the Christian trend of the week known as “The Jabez Prayer”.  We all remember it “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.”  The book was a fictional novel based on the story of Jabez. It had Jabez as a young boy, who was being laughed at by all the other boys who mocked him for his short stature and for his nickname. He later grew up, filled out, prayed the prayer, and then joined the army, went on a raid, killed many, many enemies, saved a beautiful Jewess in distress who had been kidnapped by an evil warlord, conquered all his foes, married the girl, and then settled down with 12 kids on a huge plot of land.

That plotline in the novel is to 1 Chronicles 4, what the sermon story is to Luke 19.

Its just…goofy.I don’t know how else to say it. I found the whole thing unedifying and frustrating, as he makes a point about the importance of having others seeing life change in you to be saved, when this story says nothing about that at all. Nothing! He is re-writing the bible to make a point in the story that the story doesn’t even have. That is very, very uncool.  Its also worth noting that chronologically speaking, Jesus saved Zacchaeus in the last week or so of his life, while those instances happened much earlier in his ministry, making the story outside the realm of even probability. Pastor Wayne says ” Zacchaeus wouldn’t have been saved in the story that I told, without somebody talking and sharing their story of life change.” That is probably true. Thankfully we don’t have to rely on his story, but we can look to the true biblical narrative, where we see that Zaccheaus would most definitely have been saved absent someone sharing their “story of life change”.

As a whole, very disappointing and what I would consider a misuse of the biblical texts. As it were, I think this would be a good time to do a proper exegesis on this portion of scripture, so that we might receiver a more accurate portrayal of what happened, and so that we can rightly divide the word of truth. To that end, we will be starting a series tomorrow on Luke 19:1-9.

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