I am really enjoying this series, though I’m working my way through them slowly, reading other books in between. I am impressed by the level of research done, and how well they adhere to Scripture.
This book focuses primarily on the man we know as Zaccheus (called Zachai in the book), the “Wee Little Man,” who climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. He is a tax collector of tax collectors, hated by his Jewish brethren, as well as by the Romans he works for. He is a cheater, liar, and thief with nothing but his wealth. He is paranoid, because he has created so many enemies, and surrounds himself always with body guards.
Eighth Shepherd explores “what if’s” of his character. In this book, we find Zachai beginning to examine himself, even in the midst of his cheating schemes. He meets Shimona, a leper healed by Jesus, who is the only one who is honest with him. She points out the leprous state of his heart with compassion, even as she struggles with her own feelings of animosity toward him. Her father sold her into Zachai’s service to pay off his debts to the publican. She lives in isolation, because no one believes that Jesus healed her, and they fear the power Yeshua holds.
We see the work of the Holy Spirit, preparing Zachai’s heart all throughout the book. We see his struggle, his knowledge that he is not worthy. When he prays, he addresses “The God who does not hear me…” because he has been excommunicated from the synagogue for his uncleanness and sin. He ultimately realizes his need for a Savior, and while he just knows that Yeshua will reject him because of his sin, he climbs the tree anyway, just to get a glimpse of the man people are calling the Good Shepherd.
This book is well-written, in a unique voice, and I have decided I would like to own this series. They don’t stray from biblical truth. They bring the stories to life in a way that makes me hungry to go back to the New Testament and read all the stories again. It renews my sense of the reality and historicity of Jesus’ life. He’s not just a man who lived 2000 years ago – he is God incarnate. He touched REAL people, who had REAL problems, and struggled in much the same way we do today. There is nothing new under the sun, truly, and our God can change even the hardest of hearts.
Once again, my only “complaint,” is the romantic relationships. They’re a little on the sappy side. Still, romance is NEVER the focus of the stories. It takes a very minor role. So, I can’t complain too much.