The man who climbed a tree to see Jesus

 by Steven Chan

The Bible tells us in Luke 19:1-10, that as Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho, a large crowd encompassed Him such that it was very difficult to get to see Him. One man was very determined to see who Jesus was. He must have heard about Jesus. The large crowd did not deter him. His short stature prevented him from seeing above the heads of the crowd. But he was not going to let that stop him from seeing Jesus. He was a very determined person. He wanted very much to see Jesus. So he climbed a tree just to see Him.

The Bible tells us in Matt 9:35 that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”

The presence of a large crowd with Jesus implies that His reputation as a “preacher of the kingdom of God and a healer of every disease” must have been known to many. That probably explained why this man climbed the tree just to see Jesus.

But the interesting thing was that amidst the crowd thronging around Him, Jesus “saw” this man up on the tree! Then Jesus did the next incredible thing: He honoured the man by choosing to stay in his house.

The Bible recorded the reaction from the people in Luke 19:7: “when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” They had heard the teachings of Jesus and His healing of every disease (proving that He was from God for no man could do that unless God was with him as noted by Nicodemus in John 3:2) and they had followed or crowded around Him, yet now they “complained” about Him having gone to be a guest of a sinner.

The man was rich and he was also a tax collector. So, he was viewed as a “sinner”. They could not accept the action of Jesus in seeking hospitality from such a man.

The rich man must have heard the “complaints” about Jesus being his guest and associating with a sinner. Something happened within him. The action of Jesus towards him, in the face of many “complaints”, must have touched his heart. It is not stated whether Jesus taught the man about the kingdom of God but he Bible tells us in Luke 19:8-9 what he said and the declaration by Jesus

“Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

This man, Zacchaeus, saw Jesus, not His looks; he saw the manifestation of God’s love being extended to sinners like him. The Bible says in Rom 5:8, “but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

What does Jesus mean when He declared that Zacchaeus “is also a son of Abraham”? The answer is found in Gal 3:29: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

 Let’s learn some lessons from this account:-

  1. God’s love extends to all (John 3:16). Let’s not exclude anyone from His love;
  2. Those who truly seek God will be found by Him;
  3. We should not be too quick to “complain” that one is associating with “sinners”;
  4. We must show God’s love by our action towards people;

Just as our Lord Jesus came to seek and save sinners, we must do likewise as per His great commission in Matthew 28:18-20.