Imagine going to a concert or event in the park as a child. It’s busy and there are many people all around you. Everyone is taller than you, and you can’t see what is happening on the stage. Then you realize there is a solution to your problem—your dad is tall; he can see the stage; you can get up on his shoulders so you can see too! So you tug on his arm and compel him to lift you up. At last, you can see everything that is going on around you. You are taller than everyone else. You have a perfect view of the stage. Nothing beats that feeling.
This is the thought I have as I read about Zacchaeus climbing into the sycamore tree. Zacchaeus was “little of stature” (Luke 19:3) and could not see because of all the people around him. He knew the only way he would be able to see Jesus was to get up higher. So he climbed up a sycamore tree.
Striving to See and Learn from Jesus
When the Come, Follow Me plan was announced at general conference in October 2018, I remember listening to President Henry B. Eyring speak to the women (“Women and Gospel Learning in the Home,” Ensign, Nov. 2018). That Saturday night I felt a new weight on my shoulders. I felt overwhelmed with the responsibility I had to teach my family. Then, President Nelson issued four invitations to the women that I fully embraced (“Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2018). I didn’t realize it at the time, but reading the Book of Mormon between October and December really did prepare me for what was coming.
Then, I reread President Eyring’s talk. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, this time his talk helped me see the amazing promises for doing my part. He said: “When the family gathers to read scriptures aloud, you will already have read them and prayed over them to prepare yourself. You will have found moments to pray for the Spirit to enlighten your mind. Then, when it is your turn to read, family members will feel your love for God and for His word. They will be nurtured by Him and by His Spirit … It may take effort and time, but it will bring miracles. …Each of you, equally yoked with sons of God, will be a major part of a miracle of gospel learning and living that will hasten the gathering of Israel and will prepare God’s family for the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“Women and Gospel Learning,” Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Now that we are four months into this home-centered curriculum, I have seen blessings come to me personally and to my family as we have endeavoured to learn, study, and grow together. We don’t have it always together during our family scripture study and family home evenings. Some weeks I am frustrated with pre-teen/teenagers that don’t seem to be listening. Nevertheless, each day and each week provides opportunities to draw nearer to Jesus.
For example, as I study the materials in Come Follow Me—For Individuals and Families May 20-26, I keep coming back to Zacchaeus. As I consider the story of Zacchaeus, I reflect on my children and ask myself: Am I helping them to get up onto my shoulders (or into a sycamore tree) so that they can see Jesus in the things we are learning? Do they have that desire to climb toward “the tree of life” (1 Nephi 11:25)?
The Come, Follow Me resources have been a sycamore tree for me. I have found times and taken opportunities to study and pray before we get together as a family each Sunday afternoon. As I take time to prepare, I feel like I have climbed my own sycamore tree, and I have a much clearer view of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that as I continue to do this, my children will see that desire in me.
Hopefully, they will in turn have a desire to know for themselves. We are giving them the knowledge and foundation they will need when they are ready to climb up and see for themselves.
Opening Our Homes to the Living Christ
That’s not the end of the story of Zacchaeus. “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5). Imagine the thought of that invitation!
Would I be ready right now for Jesus to abide in my house? Would I have the same reaction as Zacchaeus? “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully” (Luke 19:6). While I may run home to sweep the floor and do a few dishes, I would welcome my Savior into my home joyfully.
Sister Eubank taught us about Zacchaeus at the April 2019 general conference (see “Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness,” Ensign, Apr. 2019). She explained: “Zacchaeus was employed by the Roman government and viewed as corrupt and a sinner…And when Jesus saw the goodness of Zacchaeus’s heart and the things he did for others, He accepted his offering, saying, ‘This day is salvation come to this house, [for] he also is a son of Abraham’ (Luke 19:9).”
Jesus didn’t care what the people thought of Zacchaeus. He saw what was in his heart. Jesus doesn’t follow us on Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat, He knows that these apps only give us an outward picture of who we really are. It didn’t matter that Zacchaeus worked for the government; that was an outward picture. Jesus could see what was really in his heart. Jesus can see what is in the desires of our hearts and will bless us accordingly.
So, get up, go find your sycamore tree—or find someone’s shoulders to climb up on—to get a better view of Jesus Christ! As we climb up, we have the opportunity to leave the world behind for a brief moment each day and focus on Him. I promise as we do this, we will be blessed and have a greater capacity to help our children find their own sycamore tree.