Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: ZEST (10/01/15)
- TITLE: Up a Tree
By Loni Bowden-Horn
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I was used to getting my own way as a chief tax collector for the Roman officials. I had lined my pockets with coins from the treasury by extorting money from the poor and disadvantaged Israelites.
I can still recall the pleas of a distraught mother, “Please do not throw my six children and I unto the street. I need that money to feed my youngsters.”
I snatched the meager pittance out of her hands and commanded my men to send the family outside the city gates. I did not have time to pity those less fortunate than myself.
The throngs of people were not receptive to me. Today I couldn’t bully my way through the crowds like normal because I did not have the backing of the Roman soldiers who were armed with spears and swords.
The place was abuzz with activity due to the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth. Being of short stature, I was having a difficult time trying to get a glimpse of the man called Jesus. There were so many people gathered around him. I could only glance at the back of other people’s heads even though I was standing on my tip toes. I craned my neck to see around the crowd but I still couldn’t see.
Enthusiasm bubbled inside of me as I thought of being close to the one who had performed so many miracles. I had heard stories about how he healed the sick, made the blind to see, and the lame to walk. I understood that Jesus had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead in a neighboring town.
I ventured down the road to see if I could get a better view. I noticed a snarled trunk of a sycamore tree with branches low enough to the ground that I could climb up into it. The bark scratched against my legs as I scaled the trunk.
It must have seemed absurd to the spectators to see a tiny man couched in a tree looking down at the festivities.
Jesus peered into my eyes as he looked up in the tree as he said, “Zacchaeus, come on down out of that tree. I am coming to your house for a visit.”
I was giddy with excitement that Jesus had chosen to come to my house. He knew me by my name even though I had not been introduced to him. I needed a friend. I was so lonely.
The crowds all around me were muttering, Jesus cavorting with a sinner.
“That man with Jesus cheats and steals from his own people. He is a thief who deserves to be punished.”
My conscience began to niggle at me as I began to examine my own life. I knew that it needed to change. So I said to Jesus, “I will give half of everything I own to the poor. I will pay the people I have cheated four times as much.”
Jesus said to me, “Your life was heading in the wrong direction, but now you want to change for the better. Today salvation has come to this house. I have come to save the lost!”
I had a zest for life that hadn’t been there before. I had been given forgiveness that I didn’t deserve. There was a pep in my step to begin anew. I felt that I had grown at least a foot that day.
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