The Rabbi, surrounded by the crowd,
looked up into the tree
and he opened his arms wide
offered freely the treasures of his friendship
“May I come to your house?
Perhaps there was a hesitancy
on the part of the one who
was out on a limb.
“Yes. You. I won’t take no for an answer”
Not a command–
a reassurance that the offer
not dependent on all the “buts” that filled
the little man’s head
who knew himself unworthy
tax collector that he was
One of the most colorful stories in the Gospel of Luke is the story of Zacchaeus, the little man who climbed a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus as the rabbi walked through the city of Jericho. To his surprise, Jesus stopped when he came to his tree and, looking up, invited himself over to dinner. There were plenty of “good” people among the crowd that surrounded him that Jesus could have decided to dine with. Instead, he chose the most despised person in town, the tax collector known for being unjust, stealing their money, betraying the Jews by transferring his loyalty to the oppressive Roman regime.
Read Luke 19:1ff
Imagine yourself as a tree climber like Zacchaeus. Merge with this little man who is trying to hide his interest, perhaps feeling a tug of remorse or desire, embarrassed when the eyes of the whole crowd look up and see him perched on the limb of a tree. What does it feel like up there in the tree? Relate to Jesus as someone who is curious, or as someone who is attracted to Jesus’ message but not quite ready to commit. What areas of your life are you keeping from full commitment to the Lord and his way, his truth?
Jesus invites himself into your heart. Perhaps he knows there are areas of your life you are too shy or fearful to open to him. Jesus loves you too much to wait around till you muster enough courage to invite him into your life. So he invites himself! And he doesn’t intend to take no for an answer. Certainly, you could say no…that’s your option. But Jesus will be waiting for you around the next corner. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come to your house?”
Zacchaeus teaches us the value of stopping to notice, and what wonderful spirit-filled consequences such a simple decision can have. He left his money changing table and climbed a tree because he noticed that this Jesus was someone people thought was important enough to celebrate in the streets of Jericho. There are many things that can keep us from stopping to notice.
Name one habit you have that keeps you caught up in the everyday effort to survive and prevents you from noticing what is a cause for celebration.
Practice: Breathing slowly for a while in a quiet place, unconnected to a digital device. What does silence sound like? Feel like? What does the silence teach you about yourself?
Prayer: Jesus, I won’t give you no for an answer. I’m willing to go out on a limb for my belief in you. Come!