Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
Key verse: (4) “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.”
Reflection: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, For the Lord he wanted to see.” Is it possible to read the passage in Luke about Zacchaeus and not sing the childhood song? (try it, and let me know).
For many, the Zacchaeus story is familiar: a rich tax collector, climbing a tree, Jesus calling him down, and Zacchaeus pledging his money to the poor and righting all wrongs in his life. It is a pretty powerful and compelling story, a story with a call to action. But, for today, let’s focus on what happened before that call, how did Zacchaeus get in that tree?!
In reading this passage, I was struck by verse 4 “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.” If it wasn’t enough that Zacchaeus knew Jesus was someone he should have been following, Zacchaeus took the initiative to go ahead to where Jesus was heading, and climbed a tree to be on the lookout. Zacchaeus knew where Jesus was going. How did Zacchaeus know this? Of all the roads in Jericho leading to all the places, how did Zacchaeus know which way Jesus would turn?
Zacchaeus’ skill of knowing where Jesus is heading is one I invite us all to practice. In the church, we call this discernment. This means taking the time to know the people and the places that attract Jesus’ heart, to become familiar with Jesus’ past actions so we can predict his future ones. Discernment is being aware of Jesus’ character and listening and looking for signs of his presence so we can be present there as well. And when you come to find where Jesus is going, may you dare to follow, even if that takes you up a tree! For often when we go out on a limb to seek Christ we are met with a transformative moment.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are always on the move bringing about your Kingdom through love and peace. By your Spirit open our eyes and soften our hearts that we may know you more fully and be with you wherever you lead. Thank you for calling us along on this journey. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].