Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Growing up my sister and I looked up to our next-door neighbors.  Susie was our favorite babysitter.  But her brother Perry – who was 6 years older than me – taught us how to climb trees!  I’m not sure how tree climbing lessons came about or how he decided that the little girls next door were old enough for this.  It felt a bit rebellious, kind of scary to be up in the air, and extremely fun.  I can’t tell you how many hours we spent climbing trees in our neighborhood.

I learned the song “Zacchaeus was a Wee Little Man” as a child, as you probably did.  It was fun to hear the kids sing it in worship yesterday.  We know the song and the story so well, it doesn’t seem unusual.  But when you think of it, tree climbing is usually a childhood adventure.  Can you imagine a business person dressed in work clothes up in a tree?

Zacchaeus was not well-liked because he was a tax collector.  Whether or not he swindled people out of money, his profession had that reputation.  Yet he wants to see Jesus.  He surreptitiously climbs a tree to see while not calling attention to himself.  Yet Jesus sees him and knows him by name.  He tells him to come down because Jesus is going to his house.  Of all the people in that crowd, Jesus could have picked anyone but chooses a man who has been ostracized by society.  Then, in another twist, it turns out that Zacchaeus is very generous, giving away much of his wealth to those in need.  

As we are coming to the end of Jesus’ journey toward Jerusalem and our own Lent series “We are Turning,” how has your impression of Jesus changed?  How does Jesus pick the people he spends time with?  Who would Jesus pick today?