Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Up A Tree

It amazes me that I can hear a Bible story year after year and then suddenly have an Ahhhhhaaa moment. I know this is the Holy Spirit working within me. How grateful I am to receive the grace to allow new spiritual lessons to be learned. So it was with the story of Zacchaeus. In a nut shell... he was a chief Jewish tax collector who was so curious about Jesus that he climbed a tree in order to see Him pass. Jesus acknowledges him and asks Zacchaeus to receive Him as a guest in his home. Imagine the shock! A Jewish tax collector...despised and friendless being asked to host Jesus! What fodder for gossip that must have been. But, Jesus was very controversial and didn't conform to the norms of the day...a true rebel! Yet, a rebel with a cause.

Zacchaeus must have been just as shocked as the crowd. Notice that Jesus calls him by name. He does the same to us. He knows where we are hiding and what is in our hearts. How many times have we judged others by the way he/she looks or what we have heard about a person? Zacchaeus was small of stature. Perhaps, he had low self-esteem or a defensive attitude because of this-Napoleon complex? He certainly had to have thick skin. His trade was despised...doubly despised by his own people, the Jews, for extracting every penny in taxes for Rome and most likely...a bit extra. I'm sure he was shunned and grouped with sinners and outcasts. Being friendless had to make the man bitter. A bitter, greedy little man. What hope of happiness or redemption did this tax collector have? He was truly up-a-tree.

We have all been there...up-a-tree. How often have you heard or said, "I can never be forgiven?", "Who can love me, now?" "I'm this or I'm that"? Ah, but Christ sees through all of our weaknesses into our heart. He loves us. His love is what matters....His love and acceptance changes lives. As it did Zacchaeus'. Having this experience with Jesus was life altering. Meeting Jesus...knowing Jesus... always is.
Zacchaeus' sycamore fig in Jericho (Wikipedi)

Jesus promises us freedom. Freedom from guilt. Once we repent, he wipes the slate clean. Once Jesus reveals Himself to us, we must come down from the tree and be part of His plan. It is through knowing Jesus that we become responsible for others. Like Zacchaeus, we wipe the slate clean of others' "debt". He resolved to make restitution to those he bilked out of money. This magnanimous gesture showed that he forgave himself....believing that Jesus forgave him. Debt doesn't necessarily mean cash owed means to forgive that hurt we've been harboring. It's doing an act of kindness and loving the unlovable without extracting a payment. Knowing Jesus, suddenly, opens our hearts to generosity. Zacchaeus yearned for his moment to shine. He just needed a bit of prompting.  He needed to be asked with compassion to come down from the tree. He felt special. Don't we all need to feel that way? Shouldn't we make others feel that way? Zacchaeus didn't deserve Jesus' love and acceptance. He was a sinner. I don't deserve it, either. But Jesus gives it anyway...His flow of mercy.

Interestingly, Zacchaeus means pure and righteous one. He is a fine example of the beatitude, "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God." We are asked to see Christ in everyone. In this way, we get a glimpse of God. Christ saw Zacchaeus' worth. We can do no less, but to love others, warts and all.

We cannot stay up-a-tree and hide from the world because we are wounded. We must jump down excitedly, and serve God...serve humankind. So what if we skin our knees in the jump? Jesus took far more pain for our sins. How proud Zacchaeus must have felt to be singled out by the Christ. But it couldn't have compared to being forgiven of past sins, loved & accepted, then given the chance to show mercy and generosity all in one day! Don't miss out on the joy of having Jesus as a guest in your heart. If you find yourself...up a need only climb down and meet Jesus half way. After all, He is the Truth, the Way, and the Life.  Zacchaeus had a "front row seat" to experience a life changing miracle and we, like he, should never miss the opportunity to proclaim, "Today Salvation Has Come To This House".
Pin It


  1. What an inspiring meditation.. thank you!

  2. This is a beautiful reflection, Nanette. Thank you!

  3. Mary & Nancy: So sorry I'm slow in thanking you for your comments. Glad this post touched you. Have been so busy with preparing for Thanksgiving. What a wonderful holiday that has lost its true meaning. Wishing you many blessings on this beautiful feast. N