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Zacchaeus Felt Board Storytelling

by St. Paul Lutheran Mason City, Iowa

Felt Board Activity – Zacchaeus

Scripture Reference:  Luke 19: 1-10

(Outside scene – in a city with a road – trees by the road – house in the distance)

(Jesus – disciples – crowds of people) Jesus spent his days among the people – teaching – healing and praying – telling all who would listen the wonderful word of God. One day, some people brought their children and babies for Jesus to touch, honor, and bless. (Off to the side, add a mother, a child, and a baby) When the disciples noticed this happening, they rebuked the people saying, ‘Go away, do not bother Jesus with this matter.” (Start to take the children away)

But Jesus saw the children being turned away. He called them over to Him. (Bring children to Jesus) Jesus said, “Let the children come to me! Do not send them away. God’s Kingdom in heaven belongs to all who have hearts as trusting as these children. Anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into God’s house.” How kind and wonderful Jesus is to us. (Remove the people felt pieces, except tree/scene)

So, we come to the story about Zacchaeus. (Add Zacchaeus - a small man) First you need to know what kind of man Zacchaeus was – and it wasn’t pretty. Zacchaeus worked for the Roman government in the business of collecting money for taxes. (Add a king) He was a very wealthy man – because he cheated people. (Add money) It was the custom of the day for tax collectors to charge people more than the government said, then pocket the extra money for themselves.
Zacchaeus would not have been a popular man. He was a cheat and a thief – not honest to the people around him. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector and he was rich.

(Remove the king, money, and Zacchaeus - Add Jesus walking on the road) Now, Jesus was walking from place to place spreading the news about God. (Add people/crowds) He was answering people’s questions and healing them. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho when a man named Zacchaeus tried to get a look at Jesus. (Add Zacchaeus behind the crowd) He wanted to see which one was Jesus, but Zacchaeus was a short man. He couldn’t see over the people in front of him. So Zacchaeus ran up ahead of Jesus and the crowd (Run up the road a ways and climb into the tree) and climbed up in a sycamore tree – for the Lord was about to pass that way.
(Jesus and the crowd move forward to the tree area)

When Jesus reached that place, He looked up in the tree. Even though Jesus had not met Zacchaeus before, He called him by name. “Zacchaeus! You hurry and come down! For I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus scurried down from the tree. (Zacchaeus moves down the tree and stands by Jesus) He welcomed Jesus and took Him to his house. (They move down the road to a house) Zacchaeus was very excited and filled with joy to have Jesus visit him. What an honor! Remember, Zacchaeus was a liar, a cheat, and a thief.

The people in the crowds weren’t too pleased. They muttered to themselves, “Why would Jesus honor such a sinner? Zacchaeus is devoted to sin. He steals from people all the time. Why would Jesus choose to go to his house?

(Standing before the house) Zacchaeus stood up before the Lord and humbly declared to him. “Lord, half of my wealth I give to the poor. I know I have done wrong in the past. This is my way of saying I’m sorry. And if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give them four times as much as I overcharged them.

Jesus told Zacchaeus, “Today, salvation has come to all the members of this house. (Add a wife, children and grandparents) Zacchaeus, you are a son of Abraham, but you were lost. I, the Messiah, have come here to search for and to save such souls as yours. The Son of Man came to earth to seek and to save those that are lost.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” He welcomed the sick and healed them with his miracles. Jesus took the sinner and surrounded him with God’s love. That day, Zacchaeus had a life-changing event. That is why Jesus came into the world – to help us change – to help us know God. What a loving God we have.
Jesus reaches out to everyone. He gathers us altogether – the short and the tall; the good and the bad; the sinner and the righteous. We are all worthy of God’s love – and God loves us all!


  • The Living Bible and the Amplified Bible

Zacchaeus Drama Workshop

by St. Paul Lutheran Mason City, Iowa

Scripture Reference:  Luke 19: 1-10

Memory Verse:

Ephesians 4: 32
“Be kind and loving to each other and forgive each other, just as God forgave you in Christ.” – New Century Version, Youth Bible

Leader Preparation:

  • Go outside and find some “safe trees” to climb. (Branches sturdy, not too high, etc.)
  • You may want to scope out the neighbor’s property and get permission to use their trees.
  • Consider a step stool if the branches are a little too high.
  • Rainy Day alternative: “Pretend” to climb a tree in the church (Climb the steps, step ladder, or step stool – place a step stool behind a coat hanger with “branches” sticking out – use your imagination)
  • Read the scripture ahead of time.


Opening - Welcome and Lesson Introduction:

Greet your students and introduce yourself.

Open with a prayer.

Dig - Main Content and Reflection:

  • Gather your group outside beside your chosen “Climbing Tree.”
  • Act out your drama (several times if you have time – can use more than one tree/spot – could use the long version of the drama the first time and the short version after that).
  • Then, go to someone’s home (prearranged) for a snack – Just like Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ home. (A couple from the congregation has a great climbing tree. They allowed us to use it, then invited us in for a snack afterwards - If you can’t find a home to go to, use the church kitchen)

“Zacchaeus, You Come Down!”
Short Version– by Rachel Haugland

Narrator 1: Here is Zacchaeus. (Enter Zach) He is a tax collector and a bad man. He cheats people out of money. He’s short. (Zach squats down to be short)

Narrator 2: Here is Jesus. (Enter Jesus surrounded by a crowd)

Zacchaeus: I can’t see! I can’t see! (Jump up and down to see) I’m going to climb this tree so I can see Jesus. (Climb tree)

Jesus: Zacchaeus! You come down! For I’m going to your house today. (Zach climbs down)

Narrator 1: Zacchaeus was very excited. He changed his ways and accepted Jesus into his heart.

Zacchaeus: Jesus, I will give half of my money to the poor and I will repay the people I cheated by giving them 4 times as much as I stole.

Jesus: Very good My son - you were lost, but now you are found.

“Zacchaeus! You Come Down!”
Regular Version – by Rachel Haugland

Narrator 1: Zacchaeus was a Jew and a man of great influence. He was a Roman tax collector and very rich. Zacchaeus was not well liked because he cheated people out of money.

Narrator 2: Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho. (Enter Jesus walking down the path) There were large crowds of people around him. (Enter large “crowds” of people huddled around Jesus) It was hard to see Jesus or get near him.

Narrator 1: Now Zacchaeus wanted to get a look at Jesus, but he was short.

Zacchaeus: I can’t see! I can’t see! (Jump up and down, like you would to see over people)

Narrator 2: Zacchaeus spied a tree along the road.

Zacchaeus: Oh, look over there! (Point to the tree) Maybe I could climb in that tree. Then I could see Jesus.

Narrator 1: He ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree – for he was sure he could see Jesus from up there. (Zacchaeus climbs into the tree)

Narrator 2: As Jesus passed beside the tree, He looked up at Zacchaeus.

Jesus: Zacchaeus! You come down! For I am going to your house today. (Climb down the tree)

Narrator 1: Zacchaeus was very excited and took Jesus to his house. (Walk off)

Narrator 2: Not everyone was happy. The people grumbled that Jesus wanted to be a guest at a very bad sinner’s home. He cheated people and stole their money! But God knew what He was doing. Zacchaeus had changed his ways.

Zacchaeus: (To Jesus) Lord, from now on I will give half of my money to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone on his taxes, I will pay him back 4 times as much!

Jesus: Good for you. I have come to this earth to search for souls such as yours. You were once lost, but now you are found. You have shown me today that you have found salvation in the Lord. Hallelujah, Amen!

Other Options

Journal Stickers
Trees, leaves

Song Suggestions:
Zacchaeus, You Come Down!

Lesson by Rachel Haugland – for non-profit use only.

St. Paul Lutheran Mason City, Iowa

A representative of reformatted this post to improve readability.

Last edited by Luanne Payne
Original Post

Posts moved by Exchange Volunteer to consolidate topic:

Puppet Idea

We used a bluegrass song called "Zaccheus" recorded by Michael Stanley and had the puppets "sing" the song. You use 4 puppets (we have the big mouth puppets with crazy hair--it was so perfect.) One puppet is the lead. The other puppets can dance to the music and come in on the 4 part harmony chorus. The kids wanted to do it over and over. We taped them so they could watch themselves. I bought the song for 99 cents off the music match website.  [Linnea Posted March 31, 2005]

Moderator: couldn't find the song 'Linnea' mentions above, but did find this song  on YouTube "Zacchaeus"  by Jim Lauderdale · Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys from the album Lost In The Lonesome Pines. Same song-maybe?

Newsroom Drama/Video

Create a "Man on the Street" news show. Have kids come up with comments from people in the crowd. Interview Zaccheus up in the tree. Go to the dinner with Jesus. VIDEOTAPE IT LIKE A NEWS PROGRAM.

Another option:
Have EACH student get the opportunity to climb the sycamore tree and be videotaped about what's going through their (Z's) mind up there. Have one Zac. headress which you pass around to students as they take on the role.

Storytelling Idea

Pass out "money" to all the kids and give Zaccheus a tax bill of what the area owes to Rome. Show how he takes more than is needed and how he gets richer as the others get poorer. You could have a banker/guards following him around to carry all his money he collects and to keep a running total. When he gets "home", show how he sends some to Rome and keeps the rest to spend on things (food, servants, etc.) while the people he took money from don't have any money.

Stop and discuss the following questions:

  1. What do the people think of Zaccheus in the beginning?
  2. Is there anyone (or any group) today that people dislike as much as the Jewish people disliked the tax collectors?
  3. Would you rather have been Zaccheus or the people he took money from? Why?
  4. What do you think Zaccheus thought about the people he took money from?

Fast forward to after the meeting with Jesus and show him going back to the people he took money from and repaying them.

Now discuss the following:

  1. What do you think the people thought when Zaccheus repaid them? Were they excited to get the money? Still resentful that it was taken to begin with? Distrustful because it might be a trick?
  2. What do we think today when someone experiences a sudden turnaround or conversion? Do we believe them?
  3. Do you think Zaccheus's turnaround influenced the people around him? Or did they just think he was crazy? Think about this from the perspective of both the people he collected from and the government officials he reported to.
  4. After his turnaround, who would you rather be, Zaccheus or the people he gave money to? Why?
  5. Do you think Zaccheus missed the money he gave back? What kind of changes would that make in his life?
  6. What are things in our lives that we need to turnaround? What are things that might cause problems for us as we try to "be better".

Storytelling Idea

Zacchaeus was our story last month, and we focused on repentance and a changed heart.

An interview with someone playing the part of Zacchaeus allows the children to hear the story from Zacchaeus's perspective (and how special he felt to be noticed by Jesus).

Last edited by Luanne Payne

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