Dr. Lawrence Butler
The Bridge Church, Pembroke
Did you ever climb a tree? I have loved climbing them since I was a kid. Grandma had a pecan tree in her backyard loved both by squirrels and me. (She fed us both, thank goodness!) Various oak trees sometimes have large limbs near the ground, or big limbs forming forks which are so enticing that little outdoor ruffians have to give it a try. Even as an adult those giant oaks still call to me, encouraging me to come on up. Just like “the big tree” in the cow pasture that lured all the neighborhood boys to come and enjoy its rope-swing when we lived in east Savannah..
I have enjoyed every tree I’ve ever climbed as best I can remember. The roughest tree climbing I ever experienced was dragging those single platform deer stands by my feet as I bearhugged the trunk of a Georgia pine. When the climber was situated, the object was to turn around without falling and have a seat. Sitting there while waiting and hoping for a deer to walk by was not bad at all. It was so nice to be outdoors, half-freezing, and enjoying nature. Age, health and a wife have pretty much stopped all my tree-climbing at this point in time.
One of the most well-known and important tree-climbing experiences in all the world is recorded in the Bible. There was this little short guy who wanted to see Jesus. He was not very well-liked in his town because he was a tax collector for a foreign, conquering and dominating government (the Roman Empire). This little guy had a desire to see Jesus but knew he would not be welcome mingling in the crowd, and that he would not be able to see over the heads of the people. His answer – climb a tree.
He did. Not only did he see Jesus, but Jesus saw him and went home with him to eat. It mattered not to Jesus what the crowd thought about this because He knew Zacchaeus needed a life-change. That is exactly what happened. Zacchaeus was a changed man after that day.
He gave half of his wealth to the poor, and offered to pay restitution to any other person who had been wronged by him (probably overtaxed). You see, that’s how the tax-collectors made a living in that society – by over-charging people and keeping the extra money for themselves. Don’t we all know a few people we’d like to see climbing trees? It’s not the tree-climbing that brings change, it is meeting Jesus and surrendering to Him that will change your life. Why not try Jesus?