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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sycamore tree, Lancaster County PA
A very long and low branch on a Sycamore tree!

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"A Famous Sycamore Tree"

"A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way" (Luke 19:2-4).

Yesterday as we were driving through the country we came across a farmhouse with a very distinct Sycamore tree in front.  Alongside the house was a greenhouse filled with flowers. As you might have guessed we stopped so Brooksyne could look over the selection and I got to talking to the Amish owner, a young man with seven children.

I inquired about the tree and he told me a lot of people stop and take photos of it. Apparently the extended side branch has been its distinct feature for many years. He told me how the previous owner showed him an old photo of dressed hogs hanging from the stout horizontal branch.  I suppose it's a pretty famous Sycamore tree in these parts which prompts some reflections about the most famous Sycamore tree of all.

I suppose if I was to query Bible students I would find one of the most famous trees in the Bible is the Sycamore that Zacchaeus climbed up to see Jesus.

I like Zacchaeus' story, don't you?  Like me, you may also recall this story from Sunday School or VBS. Perhaps, as a child, you sang "Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man", motions and all. Maybe you sing it with your children or grandchildren.  I'm glad it's still being taught to children in Sunday School and Children's Church.

Part of the intrigue of Zacchaeus' story is that we can identify with him, young children especially, since they often need others' assistance in reaching or seeing due to their still-growing height.

Zaccheus in treeSurely Zacchaeus had heard many things about this man called Jesus and now he wanted to see just what He looked like, how He carried Himself, and the way He responded to those who spoke to Him!  Being a short man he couldn't see over the multitude of people. I'm sure there were many large gatherings where he ended up missing the big event due to his small stature.  When he was young he was likely raised up on his parent's shoulders, but as an adult this was not an option.  So Zacchaeus devised a clever plan where he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree. There he would wait until Jesus passed his way.

In our day it wouldn't seem too dignified to look up and spot a rich man perched in a tree, but the story indicates that he had a spiritual interest and that's a very worthwhile motivation.  The Bible story gives evidence that his position and wealth had not met his innermost needs. I'm glad that He didn't allow his pride or stature to keep him from seeking out Jesus.  I wonder if he actually cared about what others thought of his tree climbing expedition.

"When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today'" (Luke 19:5).  It brings a smile to my face mentally picturing Zacchaeus' quick descent to the ground after Jesus spoke directly to him.  I don't think that's what Zacchaeus was expecting and so often the Lord meets and calls those who are seeking Him in ways we do not expect.  And He's still doing that today, for He continues to "reward those who earnestly seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).  Let's seek Him today, no matter what overcomings it might require!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, You see us in our hour of need.  You look beyond our supposed prestige, our accumulation of material goods, any earthly titles or accomplishments we've earned.  You perceive our thoughts from afar and know the very intent of our hearts.  The searchlight of Your Word reveals anything that separates us from You.  Thank You that we can be reconciled to You and experience forgiveness of sins through the redeeming blood of Jesus.  The riches of Your grace far exceeds the fleeting riches this world has to offer.   You lead us in the way everlasting as we earnestly seek You.  We desire to see Jesus more than anything this world offers.  Amen.

The Biblical story of Zacchaeus recorded in Luke 19:1-10

Sycamore tree, Lancaster County PA
Here's another photo of the tree. It really does amaze me that with all the weight on the long horizontal branch it has lasted so long. After the horizontal part the branch extends upward as high as the main tree. For local readers the tree and greenhouse are located here (google map). In fact the tree is so large you can see it!

Sycamore tree, Lancaster County PATo add even more interest, at the juncture where the branch turns up again, it has a large hole!

Creekside Greenhouse, Lancaster County PA
We both enjoy the color and smells of a freshly stocked greenhouse!

Amish bumber sticker, Lancaster County PA
Yesterday a reader sent me a joke about an Amish bumper sticker. Now I've never seen an Amish buggy with any signage at all but years ago I did have a photo taken of me riding in a  buggy with my Amish neighbor. So I decided to add the bumper sticker!  My most memorable trip in a buggy took place several years ago when I went with my neighbor to a local bank. As Jesse was taking care of his banking business at the drive-through window his horse also took care of his business.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man"  Video  I suppose kids from all over learned this song with the Bible story!

    Zacchaeus was a wee little man
    And a wee little man was he
    He climbed up in a sycamore tree
    For the Lord he wanted to see
    And as the Savior passed that way
    He looked up in that tree
    And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
    For I’m going to your house today
    For I’m going to your house to stay”

"Seekers Of Your Heart"  Video  Melodie Tunney

"Oh, I Want To Know You More"  Video 

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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