- Art: they will begin to see that Jesus knows everything about us, even our names! The children will create a "critter" with the shape of their name to remind them that God knows everything about them.
- Games/Cooking: They will explore how God's love can "stick" to us only if we invite Jesus into our lives through a simple object lesson with cookies. in They will also review the story of Zacchaeus while playing a modified version of the game Concentration.
- Movie: The children will watch the video Treasures in Heaven and will discuss how we are called to show our love for Jesus by repenting and sharing treasures.
- Storytelling/Puppets: The children will reenact the story with puppets and have a chance to ask Zacchaeus questions — in person.
- Extra - Parents' Take-home Flyer
Luke 19: 1-10
Take some time to prayerfully read and consider the scripture for this lesson. If you have time, read some of the chapters in Luke before and after this story to give yourself a feel for where this story fits into Jesus' journey to Jerusalem and the cross.
Zacchaeus is an outsider. He is kept away from Jesus not only by his height and the crowds, but by religious ostracism. He is not just an ordinary Publican (tax collector), but he is chief tax collector. As a tax collector, he is a Jew working for the Roman authorities, collecting taxes that support a "foreign" government — and their pagan gods. Also, tax collectors are not known for their honesty. They cheat their fellow Jews by taking too much money and keeping some for themselves.
This meeting with Zacchaeus is not a detour on Jesus' trip to Jerusalem. It is the purpose of his journey ("For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost." Luke 19:10). In spite of the fact that Zacchaeus is unlovable in society's view, Jesus reaches out to him in love.
Zacchaeus responds to Jesus' love with a change of heart and changes his ways. He repents. Note that he does not buy forgiveness, but pays back more than he owes and more than the law requires as a response to Jesus' love. ("Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." [Luke 19:8b] The law requires him to pay back only an additional 20% as restitution for stealing: Leviticus 6:1-5.) Repentance bears fruit.
Luke tells of two other encounters Jesus has with tax collectors: Luke 5: 27-32 (the calling of Levi the tax collector) and Luke 15:1-2 (more complaints about with whom he spends his time, which prompts the telling of the three parables of lost and found).
The reference to descendants of Abraham in Luke 19: 9 reflects what John the Baptist said in Luke 3: 8 ("Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham."). John's statement was shocking: his listeners thought that being a descendent of Abraham was good enough for God, that faith was inherited. But Jesus reinforces the idea that even people from the "right family" can be lost.
As you reflect on this scripture, consider: Who are the people that we shun today? What groups are ostracized for their political views, their profession, their immoral behavior, their position in society? Would Jesus tell them, "I must stay at your house today"? Do you give in to social pressure and avoid these people, or do you reach out with the Good News?
- Craddock, Fred B. Interpretation: Luke. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990.
- Miller, Donald G. The Layman's Bible Commentary: Luke. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.
- Life Application Study Bible notes. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986.
Books for sharing during Shepherd Time:
Look for collections of stories about Jesus that contain the Zacchaeus story.
Play a rhythm name game as an ice-breaker and to help the children get to know each other during "Buckets of Fun" time. Establish a rhythm in which you slap your right knee and then your left knee on the beat, clap twice and then snap your fingers on the right hand and then the left hand. After this rhythm has been established, begin the game by saying your name and then the name of another person in the circle. The names are said at the finger snaps. The right snap is your name and the left snap is another's name. When someone's name is said, on the next round of the rhythm, he or she must repeat his name and say the name of another person on the snaps. Increase speed as desired.
A lesson set from River Community Church (PCUSA)
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