Climb a Tree

Zaccheaus in the Sycamore Tree


I am drawn to the story of Zacchaeus, a well-loved children’s Bible Story, because he climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus above the crowds. When I was a kid, my brother Bruce and I played outside all day and climbed many trees. Bruce was small and wiry and could make it to the top-most branches, while I tended to sit and daydream on the larger low branches…a practice that has stayed with me all my life.

You can read the well-loved story of Zacchaeus, the lectionary reading for this Sunday, in Luke 19:1-10. Also please enjoy watching the video version with the eyes and heart of child, posted here from The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Although short in stature, and wearing the robes of a rich chief tax official, this brave man runs, jumps, and climbs up a sycamore-fig tree…and all in front of the people who despise him for his exploitation of the poor. On that busy Jericho road, he was clearly motived, maybe even desperate to see Jesus above the crowd. He was drawn to Jesus, wanting not only to see, but to be seen, needing for someone to see his deep loneliness.

And Jesus looked up and saw right into his heart.

Whatever is happening in your life, Jesus is looking up at you, as you are in the tree looking for him, and he is calling you by name, asking you…wanting you to invite him to stay with you for awhile.

Receive him with joy.        

And when Jesus came to the place (the sycamore tree), he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 

Luke 19

Radical Change. The crowd grumbles that Jesus is a guest in the home of Zacchaeus, a sinner. Yet, there is obvious transformation in Zacchaeus’ heart in a radical change toward the misuse of his power and money. He gives half his wealth to the poor and restores four times what he has cheated anyone. 

As you climb a tree or sit in prayer, allow the Lord to examine your own heart.  What comes up for you to change or restore?

Breath Prayer. Pray the “Jesus Prayer” as a breath prayer:

Inhale: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Exhale: Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Creator God, thank you for trees with branches to sit on and be with you. Please help me to climb up into your presence, to hear my name called, and to be made whole. And just like Zaccheaus, I see you and receive you with joy.

Photo and Video credit: The Jesus Storybook Bible Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago from Cornwall. Published in 2007 by Zonderkidz. Illustration used in thumbnail image illustrated by Jago.

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