BibleWorkbench: Pentecost 23, October 31, 2010

Text: Luke 19:1-10

Jungian analyst and teacher Marie Louise Von Franz writes that climbing up a tree and down again is symbolic of psychological rebirth.  The cross – the tree upon which Christ was crucified – suggests that the tree is also a symbol of spiritual rebirth.  To climb a tree is to climb toward heaven.  To sit in a tree is to retreat from reality, to move physically onto another plane within the material world, to gain a bird’s eye view of things – a new perspective.  Perhaps Zacchaeus (who was short in stature), in climbing the sycamore, perceived the world in a new way.  Perhaps he saw not only Jesus, but saw from Jesus’ viewpoint the possibility of the Kingdom of God.  And perhaps, if he had a vision of this wholeness, he was able to imagine his role in bringing it about – more than imagine even, to offer himself fully to the cause.

What shortness (shortcoming or weakness) within you might be the catalyst you need to climb a tree where you might then see the world differently?  What does the kingdom of God that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels look like to you?  How are you right now a part of it?  In what ways do you keep yourself in another kingdom?  What is it like to have a foot in both kingdoms?  How might you, as Zachaeus does, offer yourself fully to the vision Jesus proposes?  Who will you have to admit you have cheated?  What might you have to give back?  What might you need to claim?  What grumblers will you have to ignore?

– Kathie Collins

The story of Zacchaeus is beloved as a child’s story, and many representations of it present a very simplified vision of the encounter between Zacchaeus and Jesus. See a variety of artistic renderings with a Google Search.

From the news of the day: Jericho pins tourism hopes on “Jesus Tree.”
(KSBW Action News)

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