Jesus and Zacchaeus

Luke 19.1-10

The people of Jericho never imagined that Jesus would choose to hang out with someone like Zacchaeus. Jesus loves everyone and came so that anyone can turn to God. Because of Jesus, Zacchaeus went from being a selfish cheat to being a generous friend of Jesus!

Key Verse

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”   – Luke 19.10 (ESV)


Lesson

Supplies: A beautiful cup, a crusty old cup, a tray, a pitcher of water.*

Lesson Intro

Ask the kids if they’ve ever been to a parade. Did they notice how many people came to see the parade? Normally when there’s something really special, like a parade, it draws a crowd! There is a big crowd in today’s story. Encourage the kids to use their imagination when they listen to this story and picture a big crowd!

Bible story

A creative way to tell this story is to draw the scene on a big sheet of paper taped to a cookie sheet. You can then create magnetized characters for Zacchaeus and Jesus and move them from behind the sheet with another set of magnets.

Tell the story from Luke 19.1-10

Things that you may want to emphasize/explain along the way:

  • Jericho. This Jericho was about a mile south of the Old Testament Jericho and about a day’s walk from Jerusalem.
  • Chief tax collector. As the chief tax collector Zacchaeus was in charge of appointing tax collectors for a region. He was wealthy because he received a cut of all they collected. He was seen as a traitor to the Jews because he sided with the Romans to benefit financially.
  • Restore it fourfold. (v 8). This amount reflects what was required for restitution according to Old Testament law (Ex. 22.1).
  • To seek and to save the lost (v 10). Because Zacchaeus was far from God he was lost. Jesus helped him come back to God. He came to find those who are far from God and bring them back to him.
Application

Zacchaeus had turned away from God and caused others to hate him by cheating and stealing. Through Jesus Zacchaeus discovered that God is better than anything we can get by cheating or stealing. God is better than the best thing ever in this world! When Zacchaeus experienced the love of Jesus he realized that he could turn back to God. 

The Bible says that when we see Jesus we will be like him (1 John 3.2). That means that others can experience the love of Jesus through you as you become more like him! Perhaps there are kids at your school who nobody likes or that others don’t want to be friends with. Even if they’re mean, it’s good to remember that Jesus still loves them.

* This is where you’ll use your cups and tray. Have your tray set up with both cups face down. Ask the kids what a cup is used for [for putting a drink in and drinking out of]. Tell them that the cups represent people and that the jug represents Jesus. Some people seem to be good like the nice cup but sometimes some people are like the crusty old cup. Not everybody likes them.

Ask the kids which cup can hold more water. Start pouring water onto the back of the cups. Ask the kids why you weren’t able to pour water into either of them? They’re facing the wrong way! Turn the crusty old cup over and ask the kids if there’s any reason that the crusty old cup cannot be filled by God? Fill the cup and explain that it’s not about how good we are. It’s about whether we’ve turned to Jesus. God is prepared to forgive and fill anyone who turns to him. Turn the good cup over and explain that even the good cup needs to turn to God to be filled by him!

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you love each and every one of us and that you love it when we turn to you. Lord we come to you so that you can fill us. We know that nothing can satisfy us like knowing and loving you!


Review Questions

  • Why was there a crowd gathering in Jericho?
  • Who was Zacchaeus?
  • Why were the people surprised when Jesus decided to go to Zacchaeus’s house?
  • What was Zacchaeus’ response?
  • How can we show the love of Jesus to others?

Image: Calling of Zacchaeus, Byzantine Icon