There are so many stories in the bible and powerful verses, but for some reason I have always felt attachment to the story of Zacchaues the tax collector. Maybe it’s because I can relate to him, being short myself or because as a child I use to love climbing trees. I remember once I was on a family camping trip, at the time I was about 11 years old. I decided to climb a tree that looked as if it had specifically been grown for climbing. There were branches to hold onto and perfect spots for feet placement. Before I knew it, I was high up on the tree looking down at our camp sight. I could imagine how accomplished Zacchaues must have felt once he climbed the tree and was able to look down and see Jesus walking through. As quick as the thrill of having climbed the tree came, it went, when I realized I was going to have to climb down. Even as a fearless child sitting up on a tree, I knew climbing down would be more challenging and panic struck. To make a long story short, my dad ended up moving his truck closer to the tree and climbing it half way to guide me down (embarrassing I know).
What’s my point in this embarrassing anecdote and how does it relate to Zacchaues?
Many times, like this man, we are eager and hungry for God, to know more of Him. So we climb the tree (take the first steps) but then we stay there, at a distance. Zacchaues climbed the tree because he was curious, he had heard so much about this man Jesus, that he took a drastic measure to ensure he would catch a glimpse. I’m sure he never expected Jesus to spot him way up there on the tree, but that’s the thing about Jesus, when he sees we are hungry or maybe even just curious, he goes out of his way to draw near to us. James 4:8 says, “ Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
It doesn’t stop there though. When Jesus spotted Zacchaeus on the tree and told him to come down, it says, “so he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.” That right there is the key to advancement in the kingdom. It requires an action and not just any action, but one that’s challenging and maybe a little bit scary…getting down from the tree. Many of us have been sitting, just hanging out on a tree for quite some time, watching Jesus from afar. In our hearts we long for more, but we have either gotten too comfortable on the tree or have grown fearful of coming down. Zacchaeus didn’t know Jesus personally, he didn’t know what to expect when he came down from the tree, but despite the unknown he was A) obedient B) willing. We can’t expect to grow in God or know God on a deeper level if we don’t get down from the tree. We certainly can’t expect to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives if we don’t get off the tree. Watching Jesus from a distance can only satisfy us for so long before something else come and distracts us. The signs, miracles, and wonders Jesus performed can’t only continue to be bible stories and church testimonies, they need to be alive and active inside of us and this can only occur when we decide to draw near to Jesus by climbing down the tree. Your breakthrough beings when you take the first step to get off the tree.