I must give credit to Jeremy Wilson, Minister to Students at First Baptist Church in Hartselle AL, for stirring my imagination with this idea. Recently, he preached a sermon about Zaccheus from Luke 19:1-10. In it, he taught us using the 4 prominent “characters” found in the story: Zaccheus, Jesus, the crowd, and the sycamore tree. I quickly understood the first three, but I had never thought about the contribution of the sycamore tree. When you think about it, that tree played a very important role.
Luke 19:3-4 – “And he (Zaccheus) was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.”
Jeremy talked to all of us who were in the congregation that morning about some characteristics of sycamore trees. They were all new to me. I’ve added a few more I’ve found while digging a little deeper.
- They can often be identified by their GIANT SIZE, often growing as tall as 100-130 feet and having diameters as wide as 5 to 6 1/2 feet.
- Sycamores are often distinguished by their flaking bark in colors of creamy white to reddish brown.
- A sycamore’s fruit comes in the form of grayish balls that ripen in October, hang on to the tree through the winter months and then break apart into seeds. Interestingly, those “fruit balls” don’t start forming until the tree is about 25 years old. One tree can produce up to 10,000 seeds each year. They actually produce the most fruit/seed when they are between 50 and 200 years old.
- Sycamores are prized for their hard, sturdy wood and canopy of thick leafy shade. That wood is often used for furniture, flooring and cabinetry.
- Sycamore roots don’t grow particularly deep, but they develop a strong system that spreads out right under the ground in a wide area that almost matches the shady covering of the leaves and branches.
- Sycamore trees typically live longer than 200 years old, and some last as long as 600 years.
I want SOME of those characteristics to be true of my own life, don’t you?
I don’t want to be GIANT, but I want to be strong, sturdy and to provide “shade” for those I encounter, as in a cooling, refreshing presence when it is hot and tumultuous in their lives.
As the sycamore tree has a distinctive bark, I want my look to be distinctively Christian.
I want to bear fruit, and I hope that I bear the most fruit in my adult/mature/latter years.
I hope I have roots that will hang on tight during the storms I will face in the future.
But, back to Zaccheus. That sycamore tree did 3 important things. It lifted him UP, above the crowds that were preventing his view. Its branches ALLOWED HIM TO CLIMB HIGHER and higher until he reached the point where he needed to be. And, the sycamore tree enabled him to SEE JESUS.
That. That is why I want to be a sycamore tree. In the depths of my soul, I want to lift people up, to give them boosts in their search for a Savior and help them to see Jesus.