Sunday 19th July
Theme: The story of Zacchaeus
Target Age Group: 3 - 9
Approximate Time: 20 – 30 mins
It can be so easy to make judgements about people based on our first impressions; the type of job they do, the things they get up to or the people that they associate with. But the problem with this is that we can end up deciding whether or not people are deserving of our time. But the story of Zacchaeus teaches us that Jesus came especially for those who are lost or far from God. God still wants to know them and spend time with them, even if we don’t. And when we know that Jesus loves us even at our worst, it can inspire us to change and want to be better. So maybe instead of dismissing people who we disagree with, we need to learn to seek them out, love them and help them to change.
Icebreaker: Celebrities Power-point
Take a look at the images of the various different famous people on the power-point. From what you know of them, have a go at the following questions;
1. Who are they?
2. What do they do?
3. Do you think they are a good role model?
Pause for thought: Judging others
Most of us make judgements about what type of person we think someone is without fully getting to know them. Particularly when it comes to celebrities or people in the public eye we seem to have really high standards for how we think people should behave even if we’ve never met them.
1. What do you think makes someone a good person?
2. What do you think makes someone a bad person?
3. Why do you think it’s important to get to know people properly?
4. Do you believe that people can change?
5. Do you think that even people that do bad things are special to God?
Song: O Happy Day by Tim Hughes
Play the song ‘O Happy Day’ by Tim Hughes
Video: The story of Zacchaeus
Watch the following video link with the story of Jesus ad Zacchaeus;
1. What was Zacchaeus’ job at the start of the story?
2. Why could Zacchaeus not see Jesus?
3. What did Zacchaeus do about it?
4. What did Jesus say to Zacchaeus when he saw him?
5. What does this show about Jesus?
6. How did Zacchaeus change as a result of his encounter with Jesus?
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
Now read the story of Zacchaeus and Jesus in your own bible, you can find the story in Luke 19:1-10
Imagine this. You are a tax collector. Your whole life you have spent chasing money and you haven’t cared how you got it. You have been greedy, stolen, cheated, lied and had people put in prison for debts they never owed. You are a nasty and horrible person. You know it, everyone knows it. You might have lots of money but you don’t have lots of friends.
But today there’s a rumour that Jesus is coming to your town. There have been lots of stories about Jesus, healing the sick, casting out devils, caring for the poor and even the lepers. You know he won’t be interested in you because of all the bad things you’ve done but still, you’d love to at least see him and see what he does. So you follow the crowds down to where Jesus is teaching. There’s just one problem though, you’re too small, you can’t see. How disappointing, you’re going to miss all the action. So instead you run ahead to where you know Jesus is going to pass and climb a tree. At least you’ll be able to see who Jesus is. And as the crowd approaches something even more amazing happens. Jesus looks directly at you and says ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ How did he know your name? How does he know who you are? And if he does, why would he want to stay with you?
Now I want to pause and imagine something different. Imagine if the phone rang and I said ‘It’s for you’. You say ‘Who is it?’ And I say ‘It’s the queen’. Would you believe me? Probably not. Why? Because why would the queen of England want to speak to you? Surely she’s too important and you’re too ordinary, it wouldn’t make sense.
Zacchaeus probably experienced something similar. The crowd think you’re not good enough for Jesus and immediately begins to mutter ‘He has gone to the house of a sinner’. They know who you are and what you’ve done. But Jesus still wants to spend time with you. Maybe, despite all the horrible things you’ve done, you’re still important to him.
The encounter transforms Zacchaeus. He recognises the goodness of Jesus and declares “Look, Lord! 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.” And in response Jesus says; “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Zacchaeus, despite what he’s done is still part of God’s family. Even though others may have declared him unworthy of God’s love, Jesus still says he’s good enough.
Do we judge people or decide that the things they do make them a bad or terrible person? Think about who you play or spend time with – it’s probably people that you like or who are kind to you. But notice that Jesus wanted to know and stay with Zacchaeus before he changed. Even if Zacchaeus hadn’t changed Jesus still wanted to spend time at his house. And it was the love and acceptance that Jesus showed him that gave Zacchaeus the confidence to change. Because if Jesus could love him at his worst, Zacchaeus wanted to give Jesus his best.
Are you like Zacchaeus? Do you have horrible habits that you need to change? Do you think that the person that you are or things you’ve done aren’t good enough for God? Then know that Jesus loves you and wants to know you anyway. Or are you like the crowd? Do you often judge people or decide who is and isn’t good enough for you, for your friends or for God? Then, hear the words of Jesus that the son of man came to seek and save the lost. Because God knows your best and your worst and he loves you anyway. And if he loves you at your worst, he can also love others too. So instead of turning people away, lets be ready to welcome those who need Jesus the most, because we’re all a bit like Zacchaeus and we all need the love of Jesus for our lives to truly change.
Song: We are the Free by Matt Redman
Play the song ‘We are the Free by Matt Redman
Craft Activity: Find Zacchaeus
You will Need: Paper, Felt tips / Colouring Pencils, Glue, Scissors
1. Draw an outline of a tree on a piece of paper with the trunk and branches
2. Either draw Zacchaeus somewhere in the branches or draw a separate Zacchaeus that you can cut out and stick in the tree.
3. Draw and colour some leaves on a separate piece of paper then cut them out and stick them on the tree, covering your Zacchaeus.
4. Give the tree to a family member for them to play ‘Find Zacchaeus’. They have to turn over leaves until they find him.
Zacchaeus Maze: You will also find on the church website a ‘Find Zacchaeus Maze' that you can have a go at helping the lost Zacchaeus to find Jesus.
Prayer Activity: Seek and Save the Lost
Write the following categories on a strip of paper and then fold them up and put them in a bowl / dish. Take turns to draw one out and pray for that group of people. You could use some of the suggestions below or come up with your own;
· Those that don’t believe in God
· Those that are in prison
· Those that are homeless
· People that are lonely
· People from broken families
· Those in positions of leadership
· Those who struggle with personal problems