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Come: Out of that Tree

“Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 
Luke 19:5



Lots of invitations from Jesus to come, touch our hearts. Here are three of my favorites. First, for the precious little ones, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Next His offer of living water to those who believe: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whosoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38). And then, so all may believe: “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43). 

But the one that tickles my fancy is Jesus’ invitation to Zacchaeus to come down out of that tree, immediately! You know the story well. In fact, you probably do best singing it; only if you sing it with me, you have to sing, for I’m going to your house for tea, since that’s how I learned it.

 Zacchaeus was not only short, but such an outcast in his home town. Being a tax collector labeled you traitor to your people. After all, you were taking their hard earned money and giving it to their oppressor, the Roman government. Being a wealthy tax collector was even worse. That meant you had upped the ante in order to keep more than your share for yourself. No wonder he had no friends, no one to let him sneak into a front row spot.

 You have to give the little man credit for his persistence. He wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed that infamous sycamore-fig tree. It is certain he did not want Jesus to see him since he inherently knew he was not worthy. However, Jesus knew what was going on before He rounded the bend in the road. And when He asked Zacchaeus to come to tea—see what I mean—He messed with the minds of all the self-righteous. Mutter, mutter, mutter: “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner” (Luke 19:7). How could this be? That day Jesus made His purpose plain and clear: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).           

So why is this particular invitation important to me this new year? I, like you, often find myself up a tree, trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus from my safe place. Oh, I’m not extorting tax money from friends and family per se. But maintaining a comfortable distance from the Lord certainly keeps me from the intimacy of afternoons over a pot of tea.

Forgive me Jesus. May I stop hiding whatever keeps me up whatever tree. May I perk my ears up and rush to put on the kettle as you gently beckon me to come and spend tea time with You.

Nancy P

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