A Lesson from a Sycamore Tree

2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 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.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. – Luke 19:2-6 (ESV)

What a beautiful illustration of salvation. Here we have Zacchaeus, a leader among tax collectors (don’t think IRS; think chief among thieves, for tax collectors in Jesus’ got rich by taking a little extra for themselves from the people).

His ill-gotten gain brought Zacchaeus filthy lucre aplenty and bought him a house. But the head tax collector got to a point where he’d had enough of shaking down his fellow Jews. He had seen the Light.

Now, picture this: this short little tax collector, object of well earned scorn, man of great financial stature, scrambling up a sycamore tree because he needed to see Jesus. He obviously had heard of Jesus. He needed to see Him.

And Jesus knew Zacchaeus was saved before Zacchaeus even realized it.

“Zacchaeus, hurry down here! I’m coming to your house today!” In other words, Jesus is coming to dwell with him. And Zacchaeus hurried down and received Christ joyfully. He didn’t wrestle with the disposition of his riches as the rich young ruler did. He was ready to make amends for his prior thieving ways (19:8).

And the religious among the crowd were none too pleased with Jesus’ choice of homes in which to hang out. All they saw in Zacchaeus was a thief, a sinner.

But Jesus… He saw a saved child of the One True God.

It’s funny. People who have known you a long time may know your reputation while never knowing your heart. I hope people I knew ages ago do not measure me as the immature sinner I used to be. For I am now a more mature sinner, saved by His grace, grateful for His salvation and mercy, and struggling with my imperfections and issues.

But Zacchaeus saw the infinitely greater value of Christ over riches. I pray, as I wrestle and pray and ponder and think, that my heart is so changed that I can truly lay aside all that holds me back from the gain of a deeper walk with Him.

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