March 7, 2018

One of my favorite Bible stories as a child was the story of a wee little man who climbed a tree because he wanted to see Jesus. That little preschool song I learned about Zacchaeus made a big impression on me. (Luke 1-10) I can still remember the actions that go with the song – moving my arms and legs like I was climbing a tree, the hand on my forehead (I was trying to spot Jesus!), and motioning to encourage Zacchaeus to come down out of his tree. I always wanted Jesus to come to my house.
What amazing lessons come from that one little story! When I read the story now, I read about acceptance of those who are “different” from me, and I read about seeking Jesus and what joy is received when Jesus comes to my house!
The story of Zacchaeus has several important lessons for us. When Zacchaeus climbed the tree, he was not only putting himself at a higher vantage point, he was setting himself apart from the crowd. I now realize that sometimes, I need to get away to look for Jesus. I need to climb that tree to get to a spot where I can concentrate only on Him. It doesn’t mean I literally climb a tree – it just means a quiet, uninterrupted place and time to seek guidance and wisdom through reading, prayer, and listening to God.
But, the story just doesn’t end with Zacchaeus seeing Jesus. When Jesus sees Zacchaeus, He tells him to come down out of the tree. Jesus wants to be with me in my quiet places and He wants to be with me in my daily life too. He doesn’t want me to stay in that tree, sheltered and not experiencing life. I have to climb out of that tree to experience all life has to give me!
The story ends with Zacchaeus receiving Jesus joyfully. Can you imagine the celebration that Zacchaeus had with Jesus? But, when the celebration ended, did the story end? I wish the little preschool song continued with a verse about Zacchaeus sharing with others his experience with Jesus and the joy and excitement of the visit. I sometimes forget that I need to share the joy I received from being with Jesus. It’s an important part of our faith – sharing God’s love and that includes sharing my story and my joy.
During Lent, challenge yourself to set yourself apart from the world – climb a tree. Lent is a time for us to develop an appreciation for who God is and what He has done for us. Take time to prepare your heart for Easter Sunday and to reflect on the joy of Easter Sunday and the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection.
But remember to come down out of that tree and share your joy. Easter’s joy and excitement are meant to be shared.
Bev Barnes, Administrative Assistant Communications Ministry