Our View From the Tree

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ “

Luke 19:1-7

This particular story is one of my personal favorites.  Zacchaeus faced with the chance of missing Jesus shows his resourcefulness by running ahead.  He positions himself up in a tree that grew by a busy road.  Climbing up he placed himself where he could see Jesus.

I can see Jesus stopping under Zacchaeus’ tree, looks up and calls him to come down. “I must stay at your house today”, Jesus declares.  Now there is some serious protocol issues here.  A guest never invited himself to dinner, that just didn’t happen.  Also Jesus, as an esteemed religious teacher/prophet/messiah was supposed to set an example and not to associate with “sinners”. Rules are being broken.

There are many lessons here for the modern disciple.  We would do well to meditate on the many issues imbedded in the text.  The graciousness of Jesus is profound.  He is kind and yet assertive at the same time.

Imagine if this account was all  the New Testament we had, what would our mindset be like?  I think we’d all have to make some adjustments. To put it simply, Jesus is not normal.  He touches peoples hearts in unorthodox ways.

I think what blesses me the most is Zacchaeus’ decision to climb that tree.  He is a man who is “vertically challenged.” But basically he overcomes his liabilities when he commits to climb up into the branches.  He positions himself to see Jesus, and you can’t say a thing against that. Zacchaeus’ adventure is just now begun.

But isn’t that is what we do as Christians?  We put ourselves in a place where we can be close to him.  Think about the ‘disciplines’ of the Christian.  Disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study, tithing, baptism, serving and worship.  All of these are like branches on the Sycamore tree.  Ascending we put ourselves in place where Jesus is coming.  It is a way of seeing Jesus. But, that is surely enough.

When I pray, I do so in order to see Him more clearly.  

I can get it all confused and see it as an end in itself.  This is a common flaw in our thinking.  We forget that all these disciplines do is to help us see Jesus. Nothing more– just to see Jesus, and to be seen by Him.

Zacchaeus did not stay in the tree, you might say the tree accomplished its purpose when Jesus drew close.  Zacchaeus did not say, “Jesus, I have this wonderful spot, and it took ‘effort’ to get here. I think I will stay right here.” No, he didn’t just want to climb– he wanted to see Jesus.

“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”  John 12:21

 

bry-signat (1)
cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg 

Doctor’s Orders

bowing-before-him

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17

I am convinced that as strugglers who just happen to be believers, there is a deep truth we need to know.  Simply that we are the ‘audio-visual’ (AV) department of the Church.

We display for all who can see with seeing eyes, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can be mixed up, and very confused at times. But in contrast, He is everything, our all in All. As the AV people, we show and declare (out of our very lives) the profound kindnesses of God.

We are meant to be see and heard, because that is what the AV department does best. But that is really not our natural tendency or inclination. Jesus spoke of a “candle on a lampstand,” that gives light into the house. Frightening as this must seem, this is our certain place.

We stand (only because He makes us) and proclaim the solid mercy and kindness of God, for awful sinners. Maybe in this short life– that is all we can really do. Fair enough. But still we hear that compelling call to become visible for Him– His fantastic glory.

We may become quite intimidated. It seems we know far more about sin than we do about holiness. Quite a few of us are expert sinners. Some of us have our  Ph.D in evil. We have taken training in sin, and are quite proficient in it.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.”

1 Timothy 1:15, NLT

When it comes to holiness or purity, we discover that we are totally out of our league. We will often try to “fake” it, but we are surprised when the Holy Spirit resists us. He will not let us deceive ourselves in this way. We have no claim to self-righteousness.

Our sins and weaknesses, depressions and sicknesses become even more evident in time. We are the ones who walk with a definite limp. We will falter, and we will stumble. But we continue to turn to Jesus. And in this action, others will see mercy that is poured out on rascals such as us.

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”

Luke 18:13

1brobry-sig4

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (1)

*

Something For You to Consider About Me

9″ And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14, KJV

ybic, Bryan