Monday, August 5, 2013

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!.... It's a Tax Man in a Tree?

This is not only an absolutely incredible event that takes place in the Bible, this is also one of the stories that I have never gotten tired of hearing or reading about even since I was a boy. 

I think the reason why this story is one of my favorites is because I see it as a powerful story of perspective and perception.

The little man that climbed a tree so that he could see Jesus as he passed by.

How awesome is that? I mean he climbed a tree!

It seems that as many times as I have heard this story taught, and heard sermons with this story there seems to be a endless amount of different truths that can be seen here.

 "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 
 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 
 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." ~Luke 19:1-10

I would like to bring a truth out of this event that I have never seen before. I want to talk about an aspect of this story that really reached out as I read this passage and that I find has an transforming ability. I believe that we have more in common with this man Zacchaeus than we have ever considered. There are seasons in our life that we share with this wee little man, and I believe that even someone who is reading this blog at this moment may have more in common than they think.

Not only do I find relate ability with him from time to time, but I also find that Zack provides solutions to my circumstances that I share with him.

Lets look at the story for just a moment and remember what we know. The Bible promises to prosper Bible meditators NOT Bible memorizers. We tend to think just because we know the stories that we will be fine. That is not the case.


"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." ~ Psalms 1:1-3

If I am going to prosper in the Christian life it will not be just because I know more Bible stories than the average bear, it will be because I take the time to look at the Bible stories that I know and ask the Holy Spirit of God to teach me His truths from the stories that I know.
Let's break this story down to funky town shall we? We need to notice something about the characters involved.

JESUS: Jesus was passing through. I love this part because I cannot help but be reminded that Jesus is always available. It does not matter if you were expecting Him to show up, or deny that He exists, He is there! And He is passing by.

ZACCHAEUS: Zack was chief among the publicans. He was a TAX MAN. The Romans occupied the land at this time and they had Jews collect taxes from their fellow Jews to pay to the occupying Romans. These tax men were not held in high regard and they had a set standard amount that they were to collect for Rome and anything else they got was theirs to keep. As long as Rome got its share, it did not matter what else happened. It was government enforced robbery. Sound familiar? yeah, they felt the same about it then as we feel about it now.

We need to notice that he was chief! He was the top dog, and it was evident from the comment that are made about him later on in the chapter that he was known for his mistreatment of those around him, and that he used his status and position to inflict pain on others.

He was physically short, and I am not sure if this played into his attitude or not. There may have been part of him that was very happy to use his position to inflict pain in order to get vengeance on people that had mistreated him in the past. It may be that he used this position to demand respect and somehow elevate himself to others. That usually is the worst kind of tax collector. The short one who was picked on as a kid.

He was frustrated, not that Jesus was passing through. He was frustrated because he could not see Jesus the way that others saw him.

I can see him jumping around behind everyone just trying to get a look at Him as he passed by. "Who is this man that everyone is talking about. He changes lives, and he does miracles. He answers prayers and makes people who were blind able to see I just want to see him the same way that those around me are seeing Jesus."

So Zack does more than just hop around behind a crowd that refuses to let him through, he goes off and climbs a tree.

That is something that you notice. Tennis shoes on the phone lines and IRS men in the trees are pretty strong signs that the neighborhood is going down the tubes.

We need to see also that Jesus saw more than a tax man in a tree. We need to notice that Jesus saw Zacchaeus.

God notices us. God sees you!

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." ~Psalms 8:3-5

Why does Jesus respond the way that he does? Here we find the story of a man who decides to do what a lot of people would not do.

This story prompts me to ask a few questions of myself and of you. and I believe if we can see our answers in front of us it could be a tipping point in our lives transforming with God!



I did not what you do for God, I asked How do you see God?

I did not ask if you sing in the choir, how long have you been saved, or how many times have you attended church within the last six months, I asked How do you see God?

Most people view God in the same way that they viewed their father.

If Dad was absent, God tends to be seen as absent.

If Dad was always to busy, then God ignores, and was bothered when I requested time with Him.

If Dad was abusive, physical or verbal, than God was the same and he could not be trusted, because one way or another He would make sure that you knew he was the man in charge.

While I am not a fan of cartoons that depict God, I do have this one in my study Bible because this is how I used to view my heavenly Father. Not comical by any means but one that had a finger hovering over the "Smite" key and waiting to punish me for "getting out of line" or messing up. He loved me yes, but he was waiting to spank if this kid ever spoke out of turn, had a meltdown, or somehow embarrassed Him in front of company. I recited what I thought would make Him happy and He was an more of a prison guard than a Dad.
My view of God was that He was strict, and sometimes tended to over correct us, and I will be very transparent in saying that for a long time I looked at God as someone who had approachable days, and if there were days that I messed up...he was silent, and wanted it to be very obvious that he was upset with me. Getting right with God was something that took weeks for God to decide he would restore fellowship. Confessed sin took awhile to process.

How do you view God this morning? Because how you see God will determine what you do with what you see.

Able to work in other peoples life, but not yours?

He can give others the ability to forgive, but not me? He can answer other peoples prayers, but not mine! He heals other folks, but not me.

You may be like Zacchaeus in the fact that you gather with other Christians and feel frustration because they seem to be genuinely happy.

You almost cringe when certain people come around because it hurts just to listen to them describe  a Jesus that you just cannot seem to see no matter how hard you try..

How do you see Jesus today?

This coming Wednesday I would like to ask you the second question that I believe is the most important of the two questions that this story prompts my heart to ask in my relationship with God.

It is the answer of the second question combined with the answer of the first question that changed everything for me!

I spent years hopping behind a crowd, frustrated because my view of Jesus was different from their view and what happened when I found a tree forever changed me! I cannot wait until we meet again in the second part of this post!

Climbing with you,

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