Luke 19:1-5New International Version (NIV)
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-figtree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Zanqueo quiero conorcerle… Zacchaeus I want to get to know you.
This was a sermon that my pastor gave and even hours later it kept resonating. I needed this sermon. I think if your read my post a few days ago about an encounter and once you read this, you will understand why I feel this resonated deeply inside me.
God I am listening!
I'm going to paraphrase the sermon.
In The sermon the pastor described Zacchaeus procession. He was the chief tax collector, hated by all because of what he did. Yet when Jesus arrived, he had a drive, a need, a wang to see Jesus. Zacchaeus was short in stature, no matter how hard he tried, the crowds were so big they kept preventing him from seeing.
I tried moving along with the current of the crowds, but was still unable to see.
He saw a sycamore tree, so Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree so he could be able to see Jesus, despite his lack of height, despite being held back by the crowds, beside being hated due to his profession.
He wanted to see Jesus…. with his ambition, drive, and faith…. he saw Jesus. He saw Jesus….. and Jesus saw him too.
Don't let what others think, what others say, what others do deter you from getting to where you need to get spiritually. Do not let their actions, their words, their expressions deter you back. Do not let their actions, their words, their expressions hold you back spiritually.
Now back to the sycamore tree. It was explained to us that in those times the fruit of the sycamore was used to feed the pigs, pigs were deemed and unclean by the Jews, since the pigs were deemed uncleaned so was the fruit and the tree which provided Nutrition to these animals.
God qualifies the unqualified.
The sycamore tree was used to help Zacchaeus both became qualified and significant to God for an important lesson in our faith.
I also wanted to learn more about this tree, here is what I learned: links and references will be found at the very end of this post.
1a-"In Catholicism, the sycamore tree symbolizes the place in a person’s life where he has a clear vision of Jesus. "
2a-"In mythology, the sycamore tree was thought to be the embodiment of three goddesses: Isis, Nut and Hathor, who was called Lady of the Sycamore. In a traditional and attributive sense, the sycamore tree is considered the tree of protection and favors."
In this section where I have quoted from an article I found where we see how in Catholicism the tree symbolizes a place in a persons life where he has clear vision of Jesus, the author also shows the mythology of the mythology of the tree
1b-"The sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed into was the Ficus sycamorus, also called the sycamore fig. Some scholars argue that the Ficus sycamorus was the original fig tree in the Garden of Eden, not the Ficus carica. "
2b-"In Israel, sycamore trees grow where underground water is shallow and is most prominent in the southern Israel because of construction and rapid development. Under very favorable conditions, the sycamore tree may produce up to six crops per year."
3b-"In Israel, the sycamore tree symbolized regeneration. Regeneration refers to someone who is spiritually reborn. (Like zacchaeus)Zacchaeus had a spiritual rebirth thorough his discussion with Jesus in his home. Levi, known as Matthew, was one of Christ’s original 12 apostles. Like Zaccheaus, Levi was a tax collector (Mark 2:14). When Christ called, Levi left his tax collector’s booth and followed Christ. Possibly Zacchaeus knew Levi and wondered why his colleague who could become very rich collecting taxes would give it up for Christ. After spending several hours with Christ, Zacchaeus no longer wondered because he too had a regenerated heart. Zacchaeus’ new heart did not cause him to follow Christ as did Levi’s. Instead, Zacchaeus’ regenerated heart caused him to make restitution and change his life where he lived in Jericho."
What we see in these three points from the author is that the genome of the sycamore tree, we see why and how it was able to grow in Jerusalem and we see its symbolizing regeneration, renewal and rebirth. How this tree became qualified for a pivotal moment in someone's life. How this tree was pivotal in ones salvation.
Focus on the Lord, not "the crowd."
1c-"Faith is not a vicarious experience. While others can help to bring us to Jesus, He calls our name and we must personally respond. Not just once, but every day, every moment. Faith is a door into an ongoing, intimate dynamic relationship with a living, loving God who, in Jesus Christ, has come to seek and save the lost. Jesus reminds us "You did not choose me but I chose you…" (John 15:16) Zacheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?"
2c-"The "crowd's" in our lives rarely lead us to God. Remember the exchange with Simon Peter recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter sixteen? Jesus asks the disciples "Who do men say I am". They told him what the "crowds" said about Him. "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah…." Jesus then spoke personally to Simon and asked "…but you, who do you, say I am." Peter replied "You are the Christ".
3c-"Desire to see Jesus more than anything or anyone else
The story of Zacheus invites us to ask ourselves if we are serious about fully and truthfully living out our Christian vocation. Do we really want to see Jesus or are we comfortable with keeping Him at a distance? Do we compartmentalize our lives, living a separation between faith and life that keeps religious things in a "religious compartment", treating faith like a hat that we put on and take off depending upon the environment that we find ourselves in?"
4c-"The Christian vocation is a call to ongoing conversion by giving ourselves away to the One who poured Himself out for us…and being transformed in the process. It is about giving our whole lives over to the Lord who takes up His residence within us and then continues His mission through us. "
5c-"We are also called to love differently, because we love "in" Jesus Christ. We are invited to "be" differently, because we are different now, at the deepest level. Jesus Christ continues His life and mission on this earth through His Body, His Church, of which we are members."
6c-"Choose to live in the Sycamore tree
The Sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zacheus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the right position for the invitation that would follow. Jesus told him to come down for he was coming to his house! Imagine the thrill. For us, the Sycamore tree is a symbol of that place in our own lives which enables us to have a clear vision of Jesus. Zacheus did not hesitate. With the same lack of caution which he had demonstrated in climbing the tree, he came down to stand in the presence of God Incarnate. There he heard the call that would forever change his life."
7c"Where is Jesus passing through in our own lives? He always shows up for those who have their spiritual eyes opened to see Him. How about in our workplace? How about in our relationships? How about in our families? Are we running out to meet Him? Or, are we afraid? Are we wondering "if we see Him, what will He ask of us?" The invitation of this story is to climb that Sycamore Tree; to find the place that will make it possible for us to see Jesus, unimpeded, so as to hear Him call our name. He still comes to seek and to save what is lost. He still comes to the homes of all who open their hearts wide to his presence and are willing to live lives bathed in the light of His refining fire."
8c- "When we see Jesus on the Jericho Road of our own lives we are invited to exercise our faith, to choose Him and change. He does not do the changing in the relationship. He is the same "yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).Prayer is not, in the first instance, about getting God to do what we want. It is about entering into an intimate communion with Him and in Him, and then abiding (St. John 15). In that relationship, we invite Him to change us and we learn to surrender all to Him in love. ……. Zacheus teaches us about life in a Sycamore Tree. "
In this section we see 8 points 1- focusing on faith and it the crowds around you. 2 the crowds won't always lead you where you need to go 3 ones faith and determination, 4 ones vocation as christians, 5 we are called to love, 6 we are asked to live in the sycamore tree 7 we are asked to question where we see ourselves with Jesus and our relationship and 8 we are taught and reminded Jesus is the same.
I loved this added research on the sycamore tree and how it relates to us and our faith. I can't wait until the second part of this sermon.
Father God I thank you for this sermon and this research that came from it. You know my heart and you know how this sermon moved me. God I hear you. I will not listen to the crowds nor will I let them deter me from you. My relationship with you matters more than what others say. I will climb that sycamore tree, I will look for you with all my might so that our relationship can grow. Amen.
Notes 1a &2a came from:
Notes1b-3b came from:
But for further reading on
Bible plants along with their symbolism. Check out : 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/
Notes 1c-8c came from: http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=34384