I love to hear someone preach on a familiar Bible story. Growing up in church, I’ve heard a lot of these stories, and that’s what they were to me – stories. As I’ve gotten older, I love to hear someone preach about people like Jonah, Esther, Moses, David, and bring history to life. Now, I try to picture life in their shoes. I try to imagine their feelings, their hopes and fears, and then try to imagine how I would have reacted to their circumstances.
So a couple sermons ago, Bro. Garrett preached about Zacchaeus, and I can’t get it out of my head. He read the familiar scripture. I’m sure the sermon was fantastic, but I really can only remember a small portion. He talked about Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree and how much of a challenge that must have been. He talked about how badly Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but, and this is what gets me… that Zacchaeus probably didn’t want Jesus to see him. Wait, what? Zacchaeus may have been small, but I’m sure being a tax collector, he wasn’t very meek or mild. He could have pushed his way through the crowd. Why had that never occurred to me before? There are so many examples of people who wanted to get to Jesus in the Bible, and just like the woman with the issue of blood, they always found a way. So, why did Zacchaeus try to hide himself in a sycamore tree?
I feel like when Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree he wanted to see God move, just maybe not in his own life. Maybe Zacchaeus was comfortable with the way things were – as a tax collector he certainly had means. Maybe he didn’t feel good enough to be seen by Jesus – tax collectors weren’t known for their upstanding morals and generosity.
I can’t get this out of my head because I have been convicted of this question… Am I also hiding? I mean, I want to see God move – sure! I want our church to do well. I want people to get saved. I want miracles to happen. But maybe I am also guilty of wanting to watch from a distance… I want to see God move – but please don’t mess with my schedule, it’s already full. I want to see God move – but please don’t ask me to help, it might make things weird outside of church. I want to see God move – but I’ve gotten lazy in my personal walk so maybe it’s better if I just watch.
I’ve had this question rattling in my head, thinking this would make such a great post for the website, and then God saw me in the sycamore tree. Another sermon, another familiar story. This time, the sermon was on Palm Sunday and the crowds were preparing the way for Jesus.
God very clearly convicted my heart during that sermon. Did you know you can’t prepare the way for Jesus if you’re sitting in a sycamore tree? It seems pretty obvious when I type it out. But gosh, if I haven’t tried! I come to church. I help out a little. I write “Praying! 🙏” on people’s Facebook posts and mean it. Just don’t look too closely. I’ve got sin I haven’t let go of. I sure wouldn’t want to explain how irregularly I study my Bible or spend quality time in prayer. And I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to pay attention to how much (how little) I’ve shared my own story.
I feel like, in writing this post, Jesus has stopped right in front of my sycamore tree and said “Come on down, we’ve got work to do.” So here’s my confession. I’ve been hiding. Here’s my question – have you been hiding too? I feel convicted to take this month and prepare. I’d love to have you join me. Hold each other accountable, yeah? I want to see God move – in my life, in our church, and in the lives of people around me. I want to be one of the people holding a palm branch, shouting “Hosanna” and preparing the way for Jesus.
This month, I’m praying for a prepared heart. That God will show me the sin I need to let go of. That God will give me a fresh desire to be in the Word, learning, and growing, and being changed by it. That God will put people in my path to help me stay committed. And then, when the time comes to wave our palm branches, I pray you’ll be there too!