“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus ho he was; and could not for the press, because he was of little stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”
Luke 19 starts out in a very familiar tone, Jesus entered and passed through… How often have we sat in service and been eyewitnesses as Jesus entered in our midst and passed through the sanctuary. Truly, it is an incredible moment to feel the supernatural power of God passing through. But this text reveals to us a man named Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who was of little stature. The Bible says that this man sought to see Jesus for who he was. Now, in my opinion, not enough attention has been paid to this statement. It is one thing to want to see Jesus for what He DOES; it is an entirely different matter to desire to see Him for WHO HE IS! Where our churches could be if the pews on Sunday morning would be filled with people who have come to see Jesus for who he is! Sadly, however, most of the people of our world, and even in our movement, have no desire to see Him as he is, only to see what miracle they can pry from his hands. It bothers me that the only time some people get desperate for God is when they have a desperate need. I understand the sense of desperation that comes with trials and tragedy, God knows we’ve all been there. But I wonder of someone’s character, when they never pursue to see Jesus for who He is! Without a revelation of who Jesus is, we will never bee persuaded to abandon our lives on the earth in search of a life with Him. The Apostle Paul, knew who Jesus was, he even knew of his miracles, yet Paul was a murderer of Christians. But one day on a road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul finally saw Jesus for who He was! That revelation is what preceded this statement by this Apostle, “For I am persuaded!!” No trial, no temptation, no storm, no betrayal is bad enough to separate me from the love of God! When you KNOW HIM, it changes your response to difficulties, it strengthens your stance in your doctrine, and it encourages you that nothing from human or demonic forces are powerful enough to separate you from the perfect love of God!
So Look as Zacchaeus, in his desperation to see Him, runs ahead of the crowd and climbs into a tree. What I call the Tree of Observation.
I commend Zacchaeus for his desire to see Jesus for who he is, and I wish every soul in our world possessed this same zeal and determination to simply catch a glimpse of who Jesus is. I am all for Bible studies, and I believe that Bible studies are part of our duty as Christians. But I have learned through the years, from observations of others and through my own person experiences that unlocking the mystery of Godliness as Paul put it, can not come from knowledge.
I understand that Hosea 4:6 tells us that the people of God are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. But without a relationship, knowledge can be just as destructive. In the book of Genesis, we see a painful revelation; as the serpent fills their ears with the temptation to sin, the Bible says that Adam and Eve desired the tree as to make one wise! They sought the tree of knowledge, because they perceived that knowledge produced wisdom. Wisdom does not come from knowledge, as the great philosopher Socrates once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”. That’s why the Apostle Paul offered these words in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “I know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.” Wisdom doesn’t come from how much you know, it is birthed by a desire to know Him! Adam and Eve’s biggest mistake was when they, through knowledge sought wisdom; when the plan of God was for them through relationship to pursue him, and wisdom is a byproduct of our relationship with God!
What I’m saying is, that no matter how many Bible studies we participate in, and no matter how much preaching we hear on the matter, there will always come that defining moment in a life when Jesus looks you in the eyes and says, “…make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” There comes a time in every believers life when we face this crossroad of faith, and we find ourselves in this defining moment of reality; do I sit in this Tree of observation trying to learn of all I can? Or do I harken unto the words of Jesus saying, climb our of that tree, for today I’m coming to your house! You see what Jesus is showing us here in this text is that as long as you and I stay in this Tree of Observation, we will never know Him for who he is. But as he mentions to the crowd that day that began to murmur at this announcement, “For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus didn’t say he came to seek and to save those who were lost, but he came to save THAT which was lost! Knowledge wasn’t what was lost, relationship was. And what Jesus is telling this man is this, all your observations are fine, its what brought you to where I’m at; but if you really are sincere in wanting to know who I am, then it’s time you climbed down from that tree of observation, and entered into an intimate relationship with me. I can’t be learned about, I have to be experienced!
Abraham knew about God, and had even heard his voice, but as he drew that knife into the air and heard the voice of GOd speak, Abraham behold a ram in the bushes! Abraham knew who God was!
Jacob knew about God, but one night in the wilderness wrestling with God all night, Jacob learned who God was!
Moses knew about God, until Moses encountered a burning bush; then Moses knew who God was!
Elisha knew about God, and had witnessed God work through Elijah; but when Elisha walked down to that river and and cried, where is the God of Elijah, Elisha found out who God was!
God can’t be discovered by observations. God desires intimacy with him, he’s come today to seek and to save that relationship that was lost in the garden. But will we climb out of the comforts of the tree of observation today? Or will live a life short of the abundance God promises to those who make him their priority? The choice is yours Zacchaeus, the call has been made…