28th October 2022

He climbed into a tree and welcomed Jesus home for tea

So [Zacchaeus] ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see [Jesus]…So [Zacchaeus] came down at once and welcomed [Jesus] gladly.
Luke 19:4, 6 (NIVUK)

At Sunday school, when we came to the story of Zacchaeus, we learnt the following little ditty:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
and a wee little man was he.
He climbed up in the sycamore tree,
for the Lord he wanted to see;
And as the Saviour passed that way,
He looked up in the tree,
And He said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down,
For I’m coming to your house for tea,
I’m coming to your house for tea.’

The story of Zacchaeus, however, is more than just a quaint children’s story that can be turned into a memorable rhyme. It is, as Luke tells us, an account of salvation coming to this man in the person of Jesus (Luke 19:9). 

Tax collectors in Jesus’s day were hated by the Jewish people. They were thieves, lining their own pockets, adding a generous cut to whatever they took. And they were regarded as traitors, collaborating with the enemy. So here we have Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, which meant he was probably the leader of a region, who had become wealthy from his exploits (v.2), and who finds salvation.

One thing that intrigues me about Zacchaeus is that he climbed a tree. When Zacchaeus got up in a tree, he left his dignity behind. Can you imagine a rich man like Bill Gates climbing a tree to get a look at Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin as it passed through the streets of London? Some things were not fitting with a dignified social status and climbing a tree like a child was one of them. He left himself open to ridicule, but he did it anyway. Jesus spotted Zacchaeus in the tree, invited himself round for tea and Zacchaeus welcomed him gladly (v.5-6).

This story is recorded by Luke to make us think. What lengths would we go to, to see Jesus? Would we be prepared to sacrifice our pride and dignity to even just catch a glimpse? And having seen Jesus, would we welcome him gladly to stay at our house: would he be at the centre of our lives? And would we eat together: would we have an intimate relationship with him? Zacchaeus did and it changed his life completely, to the extent that he wanted to make recompense to those he had cheated, and to help the poor (v.8).

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (v.10), and he is still seeking and saving the lost today. Will we climb a tree to see him and welcome him into our home? It might just change our lives if we did.

Loving Father, help us not to be proud as salvation comes to us in Jesus. Help us to welcome him home, and as we commune with him may our lives be changed forever. In Jesus’s name, we pray, Amen. 

Study by Barry Robinson


About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.

Local congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
London SE5 7HN

Local congregational contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: camberwell@gracecom.church 

Word of Life contact: