Week 52 - Toddler Lesson

Jesus Was Kind To Zacchaeus!

Concepts Children Learn: Jesus loves everyone. Jesus wants me to be kind to everyone too.

Prep: Supplies needed: A box or bag. Prep: Make up the Zacchaeus Gives Back Money Craft, and the Zacchaeus In Tree Craft. Also prepare picture 1: Cut a slit in Zacchaeus' bag between the cross marks. And cut the money apart from the Accessories page. See Craft Page for directions. Print the b&w or color story pages. Accessories bw, Accessories color, 1bw, 2bw, 3bw, 3color, 4bw, 5bw, 5color. Before the lesson: Give children each two or three of the $500 dollar bills. Tell them they can help you tell the story.

The numbers in parentheses tell you what Story Page to hold up while you are telling the story. (You don't need to read the words on the actual story pages. They are for use as posters or coloring pages). Only read words that are not in parentheses for the lesson. The words in parentheses tell you what actions you do.

LESSON: Jesus Was Kind To Zacchaeus!

Intro: Have you ever been in a crowd, with lots of people standing all around you? When you look up, you can't see anything! That's because there are so many people standing around you. And, they are all taller than you! Today's Bible story is about somebody who was all grown up, but he still wasn't very tall! Everybody was taller than he was! So, he couldn't see what was going on. Let's listen to the story and find out what it was that he wanted to see.

(1) This is Zacchaeus. He doesn't look very happy, does he? That's because Zacchaeus doesn't have any friends. You see, Zacchaeus wasn't very nice to people. He was a tax collector. His job was to collect the money for taxes from each person. We can pretend to be the people who pay Zacchaeus money for their taxes. I will bring Zacchaeus to each of you. And, you can give him one of your $500 dollar bills to pay your taxes. (Have the children each put one bill in Zacchaeus' bag). But, Zacchaeus was mean. He cheated. He took too much of their money, and kept it for himself! (Snatch the other $500 bill from each child and quickly put it in Zac's bag, letting it stick out part way. Let them know they will get their money back later). He got rich by taking their money! That's why Zacchaeus didn't have any friends.

Well, one day Jesus was in town! Everybody was crowding around to see Jesus. Everybody loved Jesus. They knew who Jesus was! They knew Jesus was the one who had made the blind people see! They knew he was the one who made sick people feel all better, too! And, they loved to listen to Jesus teach them about God! Well, Zacchaeus had never seen Jesus before. He was curious. He wanted to see Jesus too! But Zacchaeus had a problem. He wasn't very tall. (2) And, there were so many tall people in front of him, that he couldn't see Jesus! And nobody let Zacchaeus get to the front to see Jesus. Maybe that was because they didn't like him. (Shake head no.)

So how would Zacchaeus ever get to see Jesus? I wonder if Zacchaeus tried to peek around the side. (Peek around the shoulder of the person next to you). Or maybe Zacchaeus got up on his tip-toes so he could be taller. Let's all get on our tip-toes to see how tall we can be. (Stand on tip-toes with children). But that didn't help any. Zacchaeus was still too short! Maybe Zacchaeus even tried to jump so he could see Jesus. Let's all jump as high as we can. (Jump a few times). That didn't do any good either. (Shake head no). Zacchaeus still couldn't see over all the tall people's heads.

But then Zacchaeus had an idea. (3) Zacchaeus thought if he could climb up to the top of the Sycamore tree, then maybe he would be able to see Jesus! So, Zacchaeus ran over to the Sycamore tree and climbed right up! Let's all pretend we are climbing a tree. (Make climbing motions). Up, up, higher and higher we go! Now Zacchaeus is way high up in the tree! But, what happened to Zacchaeus? (Move leaves to side). Oh, there he is! All the leaves were covering him up! Hi, Zacchaeus! Everybody say hi to Zacchaeus. (Wave and say, "Hi Zacchaeus!). Now Zacchaeus could see a lot from way up high in the tree! He could even see Jesus down below! And, Jesus saw Zacchaeus too! (Whisper): I think Zacchaeus was happy that Jesus noticed him! Jesus was friendly to Zacchaeus. Jesus called up to him: "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down! I want to stay with you today!" (Whisper): Zacchaeus was probably surprised that Jesus was so friendly to him, too. Nobody else was friendly to Zacchaeus. (Shake head no). So Zacchaeus hurried down to talk to Jesus! Let's pretend we are climbing down the tree. (Pretend to climb again). Then Zacchaeus told Jesus that he would be glad to have Jesus come to his house!

The people in the crowd started to complain. They didn't understand why Jesus would be so friendly and kind to Zacchaeus! After all, everybody knew how Zacchaeus took people's money and kept it for himself. And, he didn't share. Nobody wanted to be around Zacchaeus. Why would Jesus want to be with him?

Well, Jesus loves everybody! So, Zacchaeus and Jesus went to Zacchaeus' house together. They had dinner together and talked. Jesus was so friendly and kind to Zacchaeus! After taking with Jesus, Zacchaeus wanted to be like Jesus. Since Jesus was so good and kind, Zacchaeus wanted to be good and kind too. He didn't want to take the people's money any more. (Shake head no). (4) Now Zacchaeus was sorry. He told Jesus, "I will give half of what I have to the poor people!" (Take some of the money out of his bag and put it in his hands.) And, I will pay back all the money I took from the people. I will even give them back way more than I took!" (Take the rest of the money and put some in front of each child). Pretty soon, we can talk some more about the story. But, right now, let's pretend we are Zacchaeus, and we give back all the money we took. (Hold out a box or bag for them to put their money in.) Now let's talk about the story!

CIRCLE TIME: (What does this mean for me?)

Who can tell me why Jesus was friendly to Zacchaeus? (Give children a chance to answer). Jesus loves everybody! Jesus is kind to all people -- when they act good, and even when they act bad! Even though he doesn't like the bad things we do, he still loves us. Jesus knew Zacchaeus had cheated the people and took their money. But, Jesus loved Zacchaeus anyway. Who can tell me what happened after Zacchaeus spent time with Jesus? (Give children a chance to answer). Yes. After Jesus was so kind to Zacchaeus, he was sorry, and he gave back the money he took from the people. Did you know that Jesus wants us to be kind to everyone too? Jesus is happy when we are friendly and kind to everyone.

PRAYER: Allow children to take turns praying after you or a helper prays.
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