LONG BEFORE ZACCHAEUS COULD NOT SEE JESUS, THE TREE WAS ALREADY PLANTED TO MEET HIS NEED.
I saw this meme the other day on Facebook, and its message stuck with me. Just take a moment and ponder the truth of that statement.
Anyone who has ever gone to Sunday School or attended Vacation Bible School has heard the story of wee Zacchaeus climbing up into the sycamore tree to see Jesus passing by. As children, we sang the song, made the hand motions, and decorated the coloring sheets of the tiny tax collector sitting atop his tree. We listened in wonder when our teachers told how Jesus stopped and invited himself to dine with the crooked tax man on that day long ago.
As we grew older, we learned the significance of that Bible story. Zacchaeus was considered a scoundrel who robbed people under the guise of the law. He had taken advantage of so many of his own people by raising their taxes and taking a nice, hefty cut for himself. And evidently, his superiors did not care how he got the job done, as long as the tax money continued to flow and their coffers were filled.
His countrymen cared though, and therefore, Zacchaeus was held in contempt for his lying, cheating, and stealing from his own people. His small stature only added to the contempt people had for him. So, it does not take much to imagine the sneers and jeers that Zacchaeus encountered as he fought his way through the crowd that day to see Jesus. I doubt the crowd cared whether he successfully saw Jesus or not. They probably wondered why the little crook even cared to see Jesus at all.
And Zacchaeus cared enough to see if all the commotion and chatter concerning Jesus was warranted. Who knows! He may have even been filled with doubts, and it may have simply been curiosity that made him climb that tree. Luke 19 basically suggests as much, saying that Zacchaeus wanted to see “who Jesus was.”
“Who Jesus was.” Wow! We might all do well to contemplate and ponder that same phrase.
The Bible is filled with Scriptures admonishing us to diligently seek the Lord as if we were desperately seeking water in a dry and barren land. And in many of those verses, we are promised numerous blessings and benefits as a result of our seeking.
I love this particular portion of a verse in Psalm 9, “for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” And how true it is! He will never leave us or forsake us.
Have you ever felt forsaken by someone you love? If so, you understand that there is no feeling more desolate or forlorn than feeling forsaken.
In fact, the word “forsake” means to totally turn away from, renounce, or abandon. So, those who have been forsaken have suffered a deep, painful, and lonesome wound. Jesus completely understands! He was forsaken by His beloved Father when he took our sins, every sin, as His own.
Matthew 27:46 describes that most forsaken of moments with these words: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Yet, that one forsaken moment in time provided each of us with the offered gift of salvation and eternal relationship with God. Think about it. We will never be forsaken because Jesus WAS forsaken.
So, even before we walk through any hardship, before we face any and every need, even before we open the very next door, God has promised to be with us. We are so precious and valuable to Him that He has even numbered the hairs on our heads.
I have seen that provision firsthand in my own life in small and large ways. Probably one of the timeliest provisions came once in the form of a small orange sample package of Tide washing powder.
My husband was in the Air Force back then. It was a couple of days left until payday, but his uniforms still had to be spic and span, every single day. If not, he would have received reprimands and a possible monetary fine that we definitely could not afford at this early point in our marriage. Unfortunately, we were out of washing powder, hand soap, dish detergent, or any other washing solution that might have sufficed.
I can remember so vividly the despair I felt.
Then, I noticed the mailman had pulled all the way into our driveway, instead of just dropping off our mail. I walked outside, thinking maybe he had a package for me from our families back home. He was busily sorting through some mail and did not notice me at first.
He looked up, raised a little orange box, and asked, “Hey, I am at the end of my route, and I have a whole bunch of these free samples of Tide. You wouldn’t want them, would you?”
I could have cried.
God provided exactly what I needed that day long ago on Interbay Boulevard near MacDill Air Force Base. And He has been faithful every day since then.
Rest assured that if the time ever comes when you need a sycamore tree to climb or a box of Tide for washing military uniforms, God already has whatever you will ever need, ready and waiting for you.
That is just who He is.