“[Zacchaeus] ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.” (Luke 19:4)
Earlier this month, we read about Gideon, who was called out from under a tree to serve God in a special role (Judges 6). In this story, another unlikely man is called — but, in this case, Zacchaeus was up in a tree! This story captures the imaginations of children and adults because of the delightfully humorous picture of a short man clambering up a tree to see over the heads of other people as Jesus passes by.
We should pay attention to the immediate relationship Jesus begins with Zacchaeus. Notice also the muttering of the people who pass judgment on both Zacchaeus and Jesus. Nothing is said about Zacchaeus and Jesus’ response to the hostility of the crowd. Instead, we see how Zacchaeus and Jesus demonstrate vulnerability and hospitality and how Jesus makes space for repentance and forgiveness.
How does this story speak to you? Do you identify with Zacchaeus, having done wrong and having often been overlooked? Do you identify with the muttering crowd, who are on the lookout for the mistakes of others? Do you identify with Jesus, who looks over the crowd and sees people for who they really are: found, loved, and celebrated?
For every one of us, everywhere, let’s pray that Jesus will look up and call us from our perches and invite us to spend time with him. He will make things right in our lives so that we can extend compassion to anyone we may have misunderstood or taken advantage of along the way.
Lord Jesus, invite us to come and walk with you. Show us how to live as your fully loved and forgiven children. Amen.