Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Meet Me at the Sycamore Tree

Meet me at the sycamore tree! What. The. Heck????? 

I know, it's a little strange because A) I live in Puerto Rico and I'm sitting at a computer. I can't LITERALLY meet you under any tree...unless you live on my island. B) Why not a pine tree or a birch tree or a nice bush or something? By a lake? C) Most obviously, WHY are we meeting at the tree in the first place? We've got things to do...places to go...probably cooler people to meet at WAY cooler places.

Well, you do. 

Not me. There's pretty much no where else I'd rather be than hanging with all of you. And you pretty much ARE the coolest people I know, sooooo...

Here's why I like the sycamore tree: Maybe you remember the story of Zacchaeus (za-KEE-us) climbing a tree to see Jesus. That was my favorite bible story as a kid...maybe because my brother was short for his age and picked on me. When you hear the Bible describe him, he sounds like a greedy, disfigured hobbit who was selfish and small-minded...a traitorous, conniving, cheating man who worked as a tax-collector for the city. 

But here's the first thing about Zacchaeus that I can relate to: he was curious about Jesus. I'm curious about Jesus too. He was so curious that he ran ahead of all the people when he heard that Jesus was coming to his town. I picture this tiny man sitting all alone in the leaves and branches of the sycamore tree, probably trying to get away from everyone else. After all, the tax collectors were hated in Zacchaeus' day.

I hate feeling alone. 

That brings me to the next thing about Zacchaeus that I can relate to: he was an outsider. He had cut himself off from his own people. Being the odd one out never feels good. Sometimes we might do hurtful things just to make sure everyone else stays away and we won't get hurt again. 

We find out later in the Gospel of Luke (where the story is found) that even a broken person like Zacchaeus was worth something. Through Jesus, he found that his life had value that he NEVER thought possible! Despite what all the others thought about him, God knew he was important. Jesus knew he was worth something. 

So...the joke was on Zacchaeus. He thought he needed to try to find Jesus...but Jesus knew RIGHT WHERE TO FIND him. He reached out, took his hand, and said, "I'm coming to your house, Zacchaeus. Quit hanging out in trees. I'm going to show you a better way...because I love you." (I might have paraphrased that. *winkie-face*)

The sycamore tree is a place where people look for Jesus...but Jesus actually finds them. For me, it's a place for those of us who have been looking for Jesus...but really just want to be found.