Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

The role of trees in the Bible – Day 4

The sycamore tree — get a better view of Jesus

Bible text(s)

3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was a little man and could not see Jesus because of the crowd.

This tree is mentioned a number of times in the Bible. In Amos 7:14 we read that Amos was a gatherer of sycamore fruit. But the most famous sycamore tree is no doubt the tree that Zacchaeus climbed so he could get a better view of Jesus.

Do you remember the song you sang? Now imagine if Zacchaeus hadn’t climbed the sycamore tree, it would go something like this:

Zacchaeus was very little man
And a very little man was he
He started to climb a sycamore tree
But he didn’t…
And then … he went home.

The tune doesn’t really work without Zacchaeus’ upward journey, does it? What would have happened if Zacchaeus hadn’t climbed the tree that day?

It’s easy to notice the three main characters in this story — Jesus, Zacchaeus, and the crowd of distractions. But there’s another one, a crucial one, the sycamore tree. If the tree hadn’t been there, Zacchaeus would have just been lost in the crowd.

The sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zacchaeus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the perfect position for the invitation that would follow. For us, the sycamore tree is a symbol of that place in our own lives which enables us to have a clear vision of Jesus. And Zacchaeus didn’t hesitate when Jesus called him. With the same lack of caution which he had demonstrated in climbing the tree, he came down to stand in the presence of God. There he heard the call that would forever change his life, and he responded as quickly as he had climbed the tree, not caring what the crowd must have thought.

Where is Jesus passing through in our lives today? He is always there for those who climb their sycamore trees to see him. How about in our workplace, our relationships and our families? Are we running out to meet him? Or, are we afraid of what that might ask us?

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