Climb a Tree

As I sat this morning designing a new t-shirt for my just launched t-shirt ministry, Share the Message, a thought overwhelmed me. How do we go about meeting Jesus today?
I was writing the Equipping You section for the t-shirt, Climb a Tree, based on the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).
 
The story goes like this…. Zacchaeus was a very rich tax collector who lived in Jericho. He overtaxed the people and kept some of the profits for himself. Jesus was making his way through the town and Zacchaeus wanted to get a good look at him. However, Zacchaeus was a short man and he couldn’t see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead of the crowd and in the direction Jesus was traveling and climbed a sycamore tree. As Jesus passed by, he stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus in the tree. And as Jesus stood there, he called Zacchaeus by name. Yes, by name! He told Zacchaeus to get down from the tree quickly so that he could be a guest in Zacchaeus’ house that day.
 
Zacchaeus didn’t hesitate. The Bible tells us that he “quickly” climbed down from the tree. Not only that, he was full of “great excitement” and “joy.” We don’t see some of the typical words that we see with some of Jesus’ other encounters; words like….fear, trembling, surprise, shock, shame….no, we see the words excitement and joy. A great sinner, whom the people despised and grumbled about, was so excited to meet Jesus!
 
Zacchaeus stood before Jesus in his house and told him that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and four times as much to the people he cheated. Now that’s a great confession! Jesus’ response to all of this….he said, “Salvation has come to your house today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (v. 9-10).
 
A little bit of context here. It was undignified for men to run and climb trees during this time period. These acts showed Zacchaeus’ genuine spiritual interest in getting a peek at Jesus. His response to Jesus also showed his interest in Jesus. God’s divinity revealed itself when Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name.
 
And….Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
 
Read that again….Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
 
He didn’t say to Zacchaeus, “Hey, cheater, whatcha doing up there in that tree? Come down so we can arrest you. Come down so you can admit your sins. Come down so I can take all your money.”
 
No, he said, “I want to come over to your house.”
 
It was Zacchaeus who felt convicted to bring up his sin…to confess his sin to Jesus. Jesus never said a word about it.
 
As I wrote this morning about the extent to which Zacchaeus went, I was reminded of what I went through to get where I needed to be to meet Jesus for the first time.
 
At the time, I didn’t know what was about to transpire, but I know now that God did.
 
There were many moving parts that needed to fall into place for me to “run ahead” of Jesus so that I would be at just the right spot to see Him. For one, I had to get to another state. There was a certain person that I wanted to meet and that person was going to be in a particular state on a particular date. I just knew I had to be there. We also had to coordinate for someone to watch our children while we were out of state. That was no easy feat with no relatives nearby and three small children. And lastly, we had to be home in enough time to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her.
 
As often is the case, God took care of it all and got us right where we needed to be.
 
I climbed my tree to get a good look at Jesus and you know what, He stopped and called me by name.
 
That’s right. He sent someone to say these words to me, “Jesus loves you Erin.”
 
And like Zacchaeus, my spiritual interest turned into great excitement and joy when I realized what Jesus was doing right at that moment. And I have witnessed the transforming power that Jesus has not only over my life, but the people who are in my life.
Have you climbed a tree to meet Jesus? If so, can you remember what you experienced or felt that day?  Do you still have those same feelings? Why or why not?
 
If you haven’t climbed the tree yet, what is holding you back? Don’t let your fear, shame, anxiety or doubts hold you back. He’ll meet you right where you are.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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