There is something special about climbing trees. When I was little, I liked climbing trees and even built a tree house as a teen. Our son was also a tree climber. He scared his mom with his tall tree adventures. And our granddaughter Violet liked to climb trees and was especially fond of climbing our leaning crabapple tree even before she was tall enough to do it safely. I added a rope to the tree so that she could pull herself up on her own.
Tree climbing seems normal for children, but when adults do it (if they aren’t tree surgeons or tree trimmers) it can be peculiar or even questionable behavior. But sometimes you must climb to accomplish a task. If you are lost or in danger, climbing a tree might give you a vantage point to see something you might not otherwise see on the ground or allow you to escape from danger.
One of my favorite verses in the Gospel of Luke is Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” This is something Jesus said. It implies that there are lost people who need to be sought and need to be saved. If Jesus was such a great teacher (and he was), why did he make such a sweeping statement? The answer is very simple. Isaiah was a prophet and he saw himself and all his fellow citizens as lost. He said this, “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5) He said he was lost by his own unclean words from his unclean heart when facing a holy God. His lies, boasting, broken promises, hateful language and his gossip that tore down others all brought him distress when facing God.
We all tend to think we are better than the others we see around us. We are wrong. We all lack righteousness. Zacchaeus recognized he lacked righteousness. In Luke 19 it says Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. Therefore, he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.” This was an urgent need, to see the one who seeks and saves the lost. Zacchaeus was lost so he climbed a tree. And the good news is that Jesus found him and saved him. We know this because Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.” He was a son of Abraham by trusting in Jesus for his righteousness because his own righteousness was severely lacking. Those who are short in righteousness (all of us) need to see Jesus for who he is and accept what he did for us by faith.