Last week I wrote about our scraggly oak tree in the backyard. It is once again the inspiration for today’s writing, and you’ll find a picture below. It’s good to put a face with a name.
About a year ago, I snapped a photo of my daughter as she doodled and sang up in the branches of our now handsome oak tree. The scene immediately reminded me of the tax collector, Zacchaeus, in Luke 19. Zacchaeus climbed up the branches of a tree so that he might just catch a glimpse of Jesus as he passed through Jericho. Those 10 verses in Luke 19 provide a glimpse into both the situation and Zacchaeus’ heart. Take a look at the first portion of verse three; I find the ESV translation intriguing.
“And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not…” (emphasis mine)
“Seeking to see”. Can we do a quick lesson on a couple of Greek words being used?
The Greek word being translated to ‘seeking’ is zēteō, it means to seek, to worship, endeavor, seek after.[i]
And our Greek word being translated ‘see’ is eidō, which means to see, behold, look (on), understand, perceive.[ii]
Zacchaeus was endeavoring or seeking after Jesus, so that he might behold and understand him. I feel there is so much richness in this story, but I dare not go there today for fear of going down a rabbit trail. Rather, I ask that you would take some time to go there yourself over the coming days.
For the sake of staying on target, let’s look at another story in scripture that I read just this morning. It’s the story in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Take a look at Genesis 3:8.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees in the garden.” (CSB)
Adam and Eve may have not gone tree climbing, but they were hiding among them. In these portions of scripture among the trees in Luke 19 and Genesis 3, we have two stark approaches to our relationship with the Lord.
Are you hiding in the trees, or climbing up branches and seeking to see?
In both stories our tree hiders and seeker are called out. Jesus says, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5, ESV) And the LORD God calls in Genesis 3:9, “Where are you?” (CSB).
Both stories are full-bodied examples of Jesus’ promise-filled words in John 10:3. “The sheep hear my voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and he leads them out.” (ESV)
Oh, how my heart breaks as Adam and Eve were led out of the garden. But that heartache pales to the joy of knowing that God faithfully seeks us out; always has and always will. Not only does He seek you out, but calls you by name, and should you be willing to follow, He will lead you.
So, are you hiding or are you seeking?
Are you endeavoring to worship and really know Jesus? I’m pointing these questions back at myself too – let’s be brave and honest in our answering.
[i] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 34). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[ii] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 25). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.