The Tree Climber

Luke 19:1‑10  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 5
No doubt there were lots of trees growing outside the city of Jericho that day, but there was one that was very special. It was a sycamore tree, but it was not the big leaves or the sweet fruit that made it important. You might have walked down the road and thought the trees all looked the same, so what was so special about that one? Let me tell you the secret of that tree.
A great crowd of people were coming out of Jericho one day. They were crowded around a man named Jesus who could do wonderful things that nobody else could do. But there was one man, just one, who wanted to see Jesus for a different reason. He wanted to see who Jesus was - not what He looked like or what wonderful miracles He could do, but who was this man?
Have you learned who Jesus is? Jesus will never disappoint you if you really want to know. Once when He said, “I AM,” all His enemies fell backward to the ground. But they didn’t really care who He was. They got up again and took Him away to crucify Him. Now, if you really want to know who He is, He will show you.
The man who really wanted to know who Jesus was realized he was just too short to see Jesus above the crowd. But that did not stop the man. He ran ahead and climbed up into that sycamore tree and looked down on Jesus from the branches. Now do you see why that tree was so special?
Of course, Jesus knew he was there, just as He knows where you are this very moment. Jesus stood still and called the short man by name - “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Now the secret was out, and the surprised crowd saw Zaccheus slide quickly down the tree and stand before Jesus. Zaccheus knew he was a sinner, but he was still joyful at the thought that Jesus was coming to his very own house.
Can’t you just hear the voices of the people crowded around? Their little trip was ended, and I can almost hear their mutterings: “Jesus has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner!” And that was true, but they seemed to forget that they were sinners too, every one of them. And not one of them had received Jesus joyfully as Zaccheus did. Have you?
Zaccheus was a rich man, and he was also important where he worked, but he had not been an honest man. It seems that Jesus did not say anything about this, but Zaccheus was feeling guilty about his dishonesty in the presence of Jesus. He said to Him, “Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation [dishonestly], I restore him fourfold [give back four times as much].”
It is good to make right the wrongs we have done to others, but this does not wipe away the sin. It was Jesus who wiped away all Zaccheus’s sins that day. This is what Jesus said: “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Jesus was explaining that Abraham was a man who believed God, and Zaccheus did too. Do you?
Then the Lord Jesus adds the words that show that this story is for us too: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Can you answer, “Yes, Lord, I’m a lost sinner too”? And will you receive Him joyfully, since He came to seek and to save lost ones like you?