go_out_on_limb2Little kids love to climb trees and sit on limbs. Their imaginations enlarge as they find themselves in all kind of fanciful places when they play. Perhaps they see themselves as sitting on a throne in a grand palace or on top of a great mountain where they can view the entire world. Kids with a tree house think they’re really living!

With all the enthusiasm for limb-sitting, where did the negative aspect of the expression “go out on a limb” originate? Credit is given to the Steubenville Daily Herald, for carrying this expression for the first time in print, October 1895:

“We can carry the legislature like hanging out a washing. The heft

[main part] of the fight will be in Hamilton county. If we get the 14 votes of Hamilton we’ve got ’em out on a limb. All we’ve got to do then is shake it or saw it off.”

So it adds up that anyone who goes out on a limb is risking a fall. The Bible tells about one fellow who went out a limb because he wanted to see Jesus. He was short of stature and the crowd that pressed in to see Jesus left him in the dust of Jericho.

Being a wealthy and hated tax-collector, added to his dilemma, so the town’s residents weren’t about to give him any berth. So he climbed a tree to secure himself a vantage point. That climb may have been a risk for him, yet his act caught Jesus’ attention, who called to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”


Going out on that limb changed Zacchaeus’ life. He confessed robbery of those from whom he collected taxes—and repaid them four times more than he stole from them. As a result Jesus promised him, “Today is salvation in this home. Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”

Some may think of the story of Zacchaeus as only a light-hearted children’s story; however, it’s a serious story of a man’s salvation. And it happened because he went out on a limb to see Jesus.

As kids grow older they use more caution about tree limbs because they realize that if they go too far out the limb can’t hold them and it will break, they learn full-well that limb–sitting can be dangerous.

So when a person comes alongside someone who maybe up against a tough situation to help them, the terminology is often used, “Going out on a limb.” My question is this, “Are we willing to go out on a limb for Jesus?” Jesus did it for us, He came to this earth—the limb as it were—and eventually hung on a tree for our sins—to restore our lost state. He loved us too much not to do it.