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Objective: Anyone who eagerly looks for Jesus will be found…and forgiven!
Scripture: Luke 19:1-10
Materials: Picture of the possible sycamore tree https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Zacchaeus
Lesson: Good morning, children! I am so glad you are here because today we are going to talk about a man who was so excited to see God, he climbed a tree!
How many of you have climbed a tree before? Was it hard or scary to go so high? Did your mom or dad get nervous and tell you to come down? (Spend a few minutes allowing kids to share their stories.)
Well, one day, when Jesus was passing through the town Jericho, so many people crowded the streets to see Him that it was like a parade! A man named Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus and wanted to see Him, too. But he was really short and couldn’t see over all the people’s heads. I bet you know how this feels!
So, he decided to climb a sycamore tree (show picture) in order to see above the crowd. He was a grown man! And an important man in town, too. But Jesus didn’t think it was silly that Zacchaeus climbed the tree. In fact, listen to what happened:
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. (Luke 19:5-6)
Now, what I haven’t told you yet is Zacchaeus was a tax collector in his town. Now, tax collectors were hated because they often cheated people by taking more money from them than they should. Zacchaeus had become very rich by stealing from his neighbors.
Have you ever stolen or taken more than your fair share of something? God tells us that stealing is a sin. So, Zacchaeus was a sinner. Yet, Jesus wanted to spend time with him anyway and change him. Why? Because Zacchaeus was eager to look for Jesus!
Listen to what happens next:
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “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.”
Jesus said to him, “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.” (Luke 19:7-10)
What an amazing story! Zacchaeus knew Jesus was a special man, worth risking his life and reputation by climbing a tree to see Him. And Jesus knew that Zacchaeus needed his forgiveness and wanted to help him change his sinful ways.
Jesus can do that for anyone who looks for him with eagerness. He wants to help everyone know Him as Lord and become more like Him.
Let’s pray: Jesus, thank You that You want to help everyone who looks for You. Thank You that You forgive us when we sin, like You forgave Zacchaeus. Help us to eagerly look for You so You can change our hearts, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.