Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Sycamore Tree (Luke 19:1-10)

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And 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.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:1-10 (ESV)

He shaded his eyes with the palm of his hand to peer into the glaring afternoon sun.  High up in a sycamore tree, looming over the roadside, sat a man of little stature.  The man straddled a thick branch, trying desperately to get a good view of the man passing by on the road below.

A crowd surrounded the traveler.  The man sitting in the sycamore tree could only gain sight of the crowd's focus by climbing above them.  He had heard many good things about this man from Nazareth, who was traveling through the local villages, many amazing things.

"Hello up there," the traveler said.

The man in the tree heard the curses on his name from the crowd below. "Tax collector... friend of the Romans." Other comments were made as well, vile accusations.

The traveler continued to study the little man in the tree.  He did not move along once informed by the crowd of the little man's sin.

"Your name is Zacchaeus," the traveler stated.  Not a question, but a statement.  The traveler from Nazareth knew everything about him, even before the crowd offered their opinion.

"He is," someone in the crowd offered.

"A thievin' tax collector," another added.

And amidst the crowd's murmur the traveler spoke again. "Zacchaeus come down from up there.  I would like to stay at your house today."  Would you welcome me in, despite what these say about you?

Despite what these say about you.  Sometimes this is the most difficult aspect of the calling.  We welcome Him into our hearts, but the moments are private, the world isn't pointing out our sins and plastering them on billboards.  From a lofty position, on a tree branch, Jesus seems safer.  We can see Him, listen to Him, claim that we understand His teachings and seek to believe every word in the depths of our souls.

But He invites us to first come down from the sycamore tree, despite the accusing fingers stating we are not worthy.  I doubt that many of those following Jesus, in the afternoon sun, along the road through Jericho, were Pharisees.  Most of them were just normal people, good people, those who had been cast aside by higher authorities.

Yet even they would cast aside a tax collector.

The invitation is to climb down from your sycamore tree.  Welcome the homeless Nazarene into your home and offer repentance for your sins.  For Zacchaeus is to be judged by only the 'One' at the base of tree, the 'One' with true authority.

copyright 2016 - Donald P James Jr 

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