Shovel at the Ready

Luke 19:4 “So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him…”

Observation: Zacchaeus was in a Jericho crowd as Jesus approached. Being too short to see Him, Zacchaeus climbed a tree for a clear view of the Master.

Application: The point of the story is not that Zacchaeus was wealthy and a tax collector, though he was both. It matters not that he was short and that he chose a fig tree to climb, although he is famous for each. What is striking is that he pressed through all obstacles to gain a clear view of Christ. As a result, Zacchaeus proclaimed that his life would henceforth be lived in new-found humility: “I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

That was it. No confession of faith. No walk down an aisle. No baptism. Jesus simply responded, “Today salvation has come to this house…” (v. 9)

If I were to color this chapter it would be in starkly contrasting blacks and whites, no shades of grey. Further along, Jesus tells the parable of servants whose master was going to a distant country to be appointed king. The story contains a long passage describing his entrusting three servants with money to invest ‘til his return, but the nugget that surprises me is the seemingly random insertion of verse 14, “But his subjects hated him…(and said) ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’” After the master returned and appropriately rewarded the three servants for their investment acumen, Jesus abruptly breaks stride to say, “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me.” (v. 27)

Ouch. That seems harsh, doesn’t it? What had these poor wretches done? They had simply made a decision, “We don’t want this man to be our king.” So death would come. Not a beheading in an unattended prison basement, but death in the presence of the king himself. Death by their own decision to reject his kingship.

How did salvation come to Zacchaeus? By his own decision…by forcefully choosing to press through hedges and parked cars…to do anything it took simply to see Jesus. He hadn’t heard new truth; there was no sermon playing on his IPod. Jesus wasn’t teaching that day, He was merely walking by. Small decisions…to climb a tree or to reject a king…result in life or death forever. Eternity is determined in my instant of decision.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am undone as I think about the eternal implications of that moment in time when I climbed my own tree for a better view. But there are so many others, Lord, so many I love…stir them to choose well before it’s too late.

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