The man in the sycamore tree…

Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. Revelation 3 : 20

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today!” And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what happening. “He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house” they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, “Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount! And Jesus said to, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost. Luke 19 : 1-10

Are there occasions in your life when you find yourself up a tree and unpopular with others; or a time when you are called to put aside the business of money-making because something more important has hit town, a time when you just have to find out what all the fuss is about, a time for Jesus?

Even with the wealth he has accumulated for himself and the Roman authority that ruled at the time, Zacchaeus still falls short on many things, not only in height but also in love. He is despised and looked down upon by the people for the way he extorts money and profits from collecting taxes. No way are they going to let him push through the crowds to get sight of Jesus coming through Jericho. Instead he is forced to secure a view by scrambling up a sycamore tree.

This struggle doesn’t stay with Zacchaeus. Too often it is the lowly in life who draw the ‘short’ straw, who are unable to tower above those that stand tall. But never in the eyes of Jesus.

While the people prefer to look down on Zacchaeus, it is Jesus who looks up to him perched in the tree. It is Jesus who honours him by inviting himself to the hated tax-collector’s house. While Zacchaeus may gain reward in exploiting others, it doesn’t compare to the joy he experiences when Jesus enriches him with his presence. But one man’s joy can be another man’s suffering – and the crowd complain when they see what has had happened! They are outraged that Jesus, a respected teacher and healer, is prepared to stay at a sinner’s house.

Jesus never loses sight of those with shortcomings, those considered tainted and unworthy of love by others. Jesus has eyes for everyone – for those who stand proudly tall, and for the those who fall ashamedly short.

Consecrate your heart and make in it the home of the Lord. May he dwell in it forever. part message, March 18, 1996

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