AIM: The ‘Zacchaeus Encounters Jesus’ childrens lesson aims to teach the children that they can encounter Jesus for themselves and that Jesus wants to encounter them.
BIG IDEA: I CAN ENCOUNTER JESUS
- Hide and Seek or Sardines. Play hide and seek around your building or room with children hiding in creative places whilst one off hemp tries to find the others. Alternatively everone hides and then tries to find one another. They then clump together as sardines. The last ones to find everyone is the loser.
- Hide the Chocolate Coins. Place chocolate coins around the room before your session and watch children try and find them!
- Spin Doctor Minute to Win It game. Children compete in twos to stop a coin from spinning.
BIG VERSE: For God so loved the worlds that He gave His One and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not die but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
SET the Scene:
Read the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10. Remind the children that this story is set in Jericho. Jericho was the city that Joshua had defeated many years before.
- Zacchaeus clay bible version
- Zacchaeus Tailrace kids version
- Zacchaeus Pacific Rock Peoductions edition
- Bible toons Zacchaeus edition
- Gods Story Zacchaeus edition
SPOT the Simple Meaning:
1) ZACCHAEUS ENCOUNTERED JESUS BY SEEKING AFTER HIM
Skit: can I See? Have one person have a cake inside a box. The other person wants to see the cake. The first person doesn’t want to show them. The 1St person pleads their case and then the 2nd person opens the box. Not content to just see, the 1st person asks to taste the cake too!
Say: That cake looked so tasty! The 1st person was desperate to see and taste it! Did you hear how Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Jesus that he ran and climbed up a tree?! Zacchaeus must have really wanted to see Jesus! He didn’t care who was watching him or what they might think.
Zacchaeus was a very important, very rich man. He had cheated people out of a lot of money. Zacchaeus wasn’t liked by anyone because he was known for collecting the money for taxes- money that people had to pay the government. Tax collectors were known for taking more money than they were supposed to so that they could keep it. They were thieves and liars! People didn’t like them at all- and Zaccheus was their chief! He was the one in charge of all the tax collectors.
Zacchaeus didn’t care about any of that when he knew he had the opportunity to see and hear Jesus. At that moment all he wanted was to be in the presence of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was famous through the land for performing miracles, his love and joy and peace were felt by everyone he met. There was something about Jesus that drew Zacchaeus in. Jesus is the Son of God – and Zacchaeus knew that there was something different about him and he wanted to feel and know what it felt to be near Jesus for himself.
The incredible thing is that Jesus is actually seeking after you! He says to Zacchaeus and those gathered around that he came to seek and save the lost. So Jesus was the One seeking Zacchaeus all along! Unlike our little skit, Jesus wants you to encounter him – he wants you to see who he really is! In fact, he wants you to taste and see that He is good – He wants to show you that He is a good God with great plans for you! Will you decide to run after him?
2) ENCOUNTERING JESUS CHANGED ZACCHAEUS
Share a testimony about how you encountered Jesus and how he changed your life, or use a video testimony.
When Zacchaeus finally encountered Jesus it changed his whole life! He was no longer grabbing for money, but he was willing to give it away. He was willing to give 4 times back to those that he had stolen from! Now that’s generous – especially when he was used to taking money for himself, not giving it away!
Zacchaeus’ heart was changed. Jesus still changes hearts today! He changes lives.
[Bring out your two hearts. Ask the children to write or draw on them what they think a heart turned away from God looks like and does. On the second heart they should write or draw what they think a heart turned towards God looks like and does.]
Jesus is full of grace. That’s means that Zacchaeus didn’t deserve to be saved or to be treated with love. But Jesus gave him the gift of love, salvation and joy freely. That’s what changed Zacchaeus- it was that he was given so much that he didn’t deserve. Just like we have!
So, how can we do that for others at home, at school and in our world? When we learn to be more like Jesus we will see the world transformed forJesus!
SEARCH the Scriptures:
You will need to use the bible character and the information about them below to create different puzzle pieces that fit together for this game.
There were many people that were changed by Jesus in the bible. In this game children can race to fit the pieces together. They find the person on one puzzle piece and the way they were changed on another puzzle piece. The team that has the most correctly made puzzle pieces is the winning team.
Mary Magdalene – A woman that people looked down on for how she lived to someone who followed Jesus with all her heart. Forgiven.
Woman at the well – A woman trying to find someone to love her to someone known and loved by Jesus. Loved.
Woman Caught Sinning – someone caught doing things against God’s law but realises she is free from judgement and condemnation. Free.
Peter – someone that led an average life as a fisherman but was changed into someone joining in Jesus’ adventure. Someone that would help build the church. Full of Purpose.
Paul – someone that hate and despised Christians to someone that served Jesus with all he had. Determined to Serve.
Paralysed Man – someone that couldn’t walk to someone that was set free to carry his mat and walk.
Blind Man – someone that couldn’t see into someone that saw Jesus for who he was.
- How did Jesus change Zacchaeus’ life?
- Has Jesus changed your life? How? (If not, whose life has he changed that you know and how?)
- If Jesus was to come into this room right now what would you say? Why do you think Jesus would say to you?
- Is there anyone that you want to pray for that they might encounter Jesus?
SENSE How You Feel:
Think about how it must have felt to be Zacchaeus: hearing about Jesus coming into town, trying to see him but everyone being too big for you to see, finally getting to see Jesus, Jesus chooding to come to your house for dinner. How would you feel?
- Write a poem to think about how you would feel
- Re-enact the story and speak out how you think Zacchaeus would be feeling at each point
- Put Zacchaeus on the hot seat by encouraging different people to play the part of Zacchaeus and ask him questions about how he was feeling.
- Craft- create a craft picture of Zacchaeus up the tree
- Create a tree snack using grapes and long chips (crisps such as Twiglets). Think about how good God is as you eat it.
Say: We’re going to take a couple of minutes to imagine that you are outside in that crowd of people on the day that Zacchaeus was up the tree. Where are you? How desperate are you to see Jesus?
What will you do to see Jesus? How will you respond to him coming through the town?
What does Jesus say to you? How will this transform your life?
[Ask everyone to draw a picture of the face of Jesus as you see him looking at you. Discuss how this make you feel.]