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Up a Tree With Jesus

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The Presence of Christ brings us to make radical changes in our lives.

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When Love Comes Calling

Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 5056 Zacchaeus and the Tree

There is an interesting story about Zacchaeus of Jericho: When he was aged, white-headed, he spent much time in a garden which he bought in Jericho, near the Jerusalem road. Neighbors noticed there was one tree under which Zacchaeus loved to sit and which he touched almost with reverence. A passing stranger one day asked him, “Why carest thou thus for the old tree?” The aged man lifted his fading eyes, but they had a glow, and slowly came the answer: “Because from the boughs of this tree I first saw my Lord and heard His voice.”

Have you seen the Lord?
In what ways do you recognize Christ's presence in your life?
1 John 4:19 ESV

We love because he first loved us.

What motivated you the first time you came to church?
The first time I went to church, outside of Catholic School Chapel, it was out of curiosity. I had never been to what my friends called a "Watch Night Service." I had never been to a Baptist church. I had never seen a choir sing.
Did you come because you're nosy?
Jesus could always draw a crowd. Whether it was because of the power of His teaching, the fact that everyone was accepted in His presence, His ability to heal and work miracles, or the way He could put the religious elites in their place, people always came out when they heard that Jesus was around.
Nothing wrong with being drawn.
There's no shame in getting a little help.
Luke 18:35–37 ESV

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

This blind man sees his opportunity, although he might not be able to see much else. (Luke 18:38)
Luke 18:38 ESV

And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Just like the widow with the unjust judge, this blind man was not going to leave without getting what he came for, and Jesus heard his cry (Luke 18:40-43).
Luke 18:40–43 ESV

And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Has God got you up a tree?

I know that this wasn't part of the Gospel text, but I wanted you to know how Zacchaeus got up a tree in the first place. Jesus healed that blind man, and a crowd was celebrating the display of God's power. Zacchaeus was trying to see the parade, but he was too short.
Luke 19:2–3 ESV

And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.

Can you see what God is doing in Hemet?
Maybe you can't see what God is doing because you're too short.
God is working, God is setting free, God is taking away the guilt and shame, and you just can't see it. You aren't alone - there are a lot of people who can't see what God is up to in Hemet. You can't stay on the ground, in the dirt, and see what God is up to.
Luke 19:4 ESV

So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

Zacchaeus didn't just try to get a higher perspective, he wasn't just trying to be more "spiritual." Zacchaeus was positioning himself to see Jesus. There is a way that you can put yourself in position to see Jesus. The Divine Service puts you in position to see Jesus, because it gets you out of the mud, out of the confusion. Zacchaeus climbed up the tree with a purpose He was looking.
Why are you here? I'm here for Jesus.
I don't think that tree was comfortable, I know that it didn't have padded seats. I bet there was no service bar in that tree. Zacchaeus didn't care. If it let him see Jesus, he was going to set himself in that tree until Jesus came.
Jesus - Please don't pass me by!
Luke 19:5 ESV

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Jesus didn't check to see if Zacchaeus house was clean. Jesus didn't ask if everything was in order. He just told him that He "must stay" at his house. He didn't ask permission. When you were baptized, Jesus didn't ask permission then either. He made a commitment in baptism to make you His temple. (Eph 2:22)
Ephesians 2:22 ESV

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

I wonder why not everyone is happy to be in worship. I don't understand a bored face during worship. The presence of the Lord is here, and He comes with healing in His wings. Even stranger, I don't know why people aren't happy to see Christians come around! After all, we are the only people on earth that can bring Jesus with us (Romans 8:9)
Romans 8:9 ESV

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

When you belong to Christ, He goes where you go, because He said so! People ought to be glad to see you coming, and sad to see you going, because you bring the love of Jesus with you! And you know whether you bringing Jesus with you, or the devil is hitching a ride on your backside, don't you? What's in you is going to come out.
Romans 8:11 ESV

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Alright, we left Zacchaeus up in that tree, let's get him down before it gets too late. Zacchaeus gets down, and he was glad to have Jesus in his house. For some reason, though, everybody else got mad when he got glad!
Luke 19:6–7 ESV

So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Why did they get mad? Why did they grumble? Dr. Luther wrote about people like that.
The Book of Concord Article 2: Concerning the Law

They anxiously desire help but do not know where to find it; they start to become enemies of God, to murmur, etc. This is what is meant by Romans [4:15*]: “The law brings wrath,”82 and Romans 5[:20*], “Sin becomes greater through the law.”

People see Jesus coming to you get jealous. Why is Jesus blessing you? Why Jesus give you joy? Zacchaeus didn't know why he felt joy, just like he didn't know why he was about to open his mouth and say...

Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.

When the Lord gets a-hold of you, He's going to change you. He's going to take your wrong and make it right, if you let Him. Sometimes folks don't let Him, they fight Him, just like the Pharisees. That's why they didn't have Zacchaeus' joy, because they were too busy fighting against it. That's why you don't know that you're forgiven, you're spending all your energy fighting God's Word to you.
Let it go!
Let it go!
Luke 19:9–10 ESV

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus saw Jesus for who He is, and it changed him, just like the blind man did, and just like the rich young ruler didn't do. I thank God for one more though. Zachaeus had to climb a tree to see Jesus, but I didn't have to. Zachaeus had to humiliate himself and mess up his fine robes, but you don't have to.
why not?
We don't have to, because Jesus did it for us. Jesus climbed a tree, and from that tree, he saw you and me. He saw your sin, and my sin. Isa 53:11
Isaiah 53:11 NKJV

He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.

By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,

For He shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus took Zacchaeus' guilty stains, and made him free to love his neighbor. Jesus made him free to be a good neighbor, to be a friend to others. Jesus took your guilty stains, and set you free in the Spirit to bear His image in Hemet and the Inland Empire. You can stop lying and stealing, and start loving and serving, thanks to Jesus in you, who put that smile on your face and that joy in your heart (Galatians 5:22).
Galatians 5:22 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

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