THE LITTLE MAN IN THE TREE

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1 BOOK 2, PART 1, LESSON 8 THE LITTLE MAN IN THE TREE THE BIBLE: Luke 19:1-10 THEME: Jesus lived as God s obedient son. His life of love, compassion and healing shows what children of God are called to be and do. PREPARING FOR THE LESSON MAIN IDEA: Jesus offered Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector, God s love and acceptance, which changed Zacchaeus life forever. God s love and acceptance can make a difference in our lives as well. MEMORY VERSE: The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost. Luke 19:10 KEY WORDS AND CONCEPTS TO BE LEARNED: a. Saved - to save from spiritual death, to be forgiven from all sin. b. Lost - those who have not accepted God s gift of forgiveness. BIBLE BACKGROUND: Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Recent archaeological digs have uncovered at least three different sites that were occupied over the centuries, beginning perhaps eleven thousand years ago. The last great city was actually inhabited three hundred years before Moses. In Jesus time, Jericho was a city of great wealth and great poverty. It was a home for both merchants and beggars. If the merchants and traders who worked there were wealthy, so were the tax collectors. Because it was a simple thing to do, most tax collectors were dishonest. Zacchaeus was dishonest. He cheated his countrymen which made him doubly despised. Yet, he came to see Jesus who treated him as a person of worth. This acceptance changed his life. UNDERSTANDING YOUR STUDENTS: Children learn about God s unconditional love and acceptance through the love and acceptance shown by the adults around them. Children respond positively to adults who treat them with respect and as persons of infinite value. Are there children in your group who look up to you? If so, you have great power to be a positive influence in that child s life. DEVELOPING YOUR FAITH: Read Luke 19:1-10. Zacchaeus could not hide from God s inclusive love, even in a tree. Do you find yourself hiding from God, not standing forward because you feel

2 yourself unworthy? What does this story say about God s love and acceptance? 1. INTRODUCTION TEACHING THE LESSON SAY: In today s Bible story, we are going to hear about a man named Zacchaeus who lived in the city of Jericho. He was a tax collector. People didn t like him very much because he was dishonest. But when he discovered that God loved him even though he wasn t always very good, he decided to change. ASK: Can you think of another tax collector about whom the Bible tells us? (Levi-Matthew) Did the people like Levi? (No.) What happened to Levi? (He became a follower of Jesus.) Do you think the people liked Zacchaeus? SAY: Listen to how Zacchaeus changed after he met Jesus. 2. EXPLORE THE BIBLE MESSAGE Jesus and his group of followers were on their way to Jerusalem. It was almost time to celebrate the Passover. All Jewish men who were able traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem for this special celebration. Jesus and his friends would pass through the city of Jericho. Word spread quickly. Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! From house to house, the news spread. Everyone wanted to see this man who caused lame men to walk and blind men to see. They wanted to hear this man who talked about God in such a personal way. Jesus was indeed coming to their town. A tax collector named Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. Nobody liked Zacchaeus. No one liked paying taxes to the Romans anyway, but Zacchaeus was also dishonest. He made the people pay more than they were supposed to. Zacchaeus gave part of the money to Rome but the rest he kept for himself. No wonder he is so rich, people would grumble, and no wonder we are so poor. When Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to Jericho, he decided to see this man for himself. After all, Jesus was talking about how in God s kingdom wealth did not matter. Hah! he said to himself, that will be the day. Zacchaeus closed his tax booth and went to the road where Jesus would pass. Now, Zacchaeus was a very short man. When he came to the road, many people were already there. They lined up along the side of the road. Zacchaeus stood on the tiptoes, but he could not see over the people. He tried to walk around them, but the line of people went on and on and on. He could not get around them. So Zacchaeus tried to push his way through the crowd. Let me in! Let me in! he insisted. But no one would move. They did not like Zacchaeus. Humph, said one of the men, planting his feet firmly and not moving. Let him go somewhere else. And he ignored the little man. Many tall sycamore trees grew beside the road. The trees provided shade and

3 shelter for the weary travelers. Zacchaeus had an idea. Zacchaeus ran to the nearest tree and pulled himself up to the lowest branches. He scooted along one of the branches that hung out over the road. Now, thought Zacchaeus, I will be able to see Jesus when he comes down the road. Zacchaeus settled down just in time. Here came Jesus and his friends. Everyone leaned forward and reached out. They wanted to touch Jesus or his clothing, at least. Jesus and his friends walked closer and closer. Then Jesus stopped, right beneath the tree where Zacchaeus was perched. Jesus looked up into the tree. Zacchaeus, Jesus said, hurry and get down from that tree. Zacchaeus looked around to see if there were any other people sitting in the tree. But there was no one. Jesus was talking to him! No one in Jericho talked to a tax collector. No one in Jericho wanted anything to do with a tax collector. Jesus stood there as Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down. I m coming to your house today, Jesus said. Zacchaeus hurried home to get ready. The crown gasped. Jesus the teacher, the man who healed the sick and made the blind to see, was going to eat dinner with a tax collector! All the way home, Zacchaeus mumbled to himself. Jesus had spoken to hem. Jesus was coming to his house, that very evening. It didn t seem to matter to Jesus that he was a tax collector, that he was disliked. Jesus was coming to his house. Zacchaeus hurried even faster. He had much to do to get ready for his special guest. Jesus would be the most important visitor he had ever had. Since Jesus was coming to his house, Zacchaeus must not be such a bad person after all. Then Zacchaeus knew that he had to make some changes in his life. When Jesus arrived at his house, Zacchaeus said to him, You know what a bad person I have been and yet you choose to eat with me anyway. I want to change me life. I will give half of my possessions to the poor. If I have cheated anyone of anything, I will pay them back four times as much. Jesus smiled at Zacchaeus, I came to this world to look for people who are lost, who do not know how to live as God intended. I am glad I found you today, Zacchaeus. 3. RESPOND TO THE BIBLE STORY ACTIVITY 1: Questions 1. What was Zacchaeus problem? (He wanted to see Jesus but he was too short to see over the crowd.) 2. How did he solve it? (He climbed up a tree.) 3. What surprised him? (Many answers are correct. He was surprised that Jesus talked to him.) 4. Why was he surprised that Jesus talked to him? (He was surprised because he knew he was a bad person. He thought that he was too bad for anyone to like him.) 5. What was Zacchaeus like before he met Jesus? 6. What was Zacchaeus like after he met Jesus?

4 TELL the children: Zacchaeus, like Levi, was changed by Jesus offer of love and friendship. Before, even his own countrymen had nothing to do with him. Now, because he knew God s love and friendship, he was able to change. God loves and accepts us, just as we are. We don t have to make God love us. But because God loves us, we try to live as God wants us to live. What are some ways we can do that? (Some answers may be: We live the way God wants us to when we are kind to others, when we study god s word, when we obey our parents.) ACTIVITY 2: Sing a song Your students may know this song, if not say the words and act out the story. Have the children repeat the words and act out the story with you. Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. (Hold our hand, palm down close to the floor.) He climbed up in a sycamore tree (Alternate hands as if climbing.) For the Lord he wanted to see. (Shade eyes, look down.) And as the Savior passed that way, (Swing arms as if walking.) He looked up in the tree. (Shade eyes, look up.) And he said, Zacchaeus, you come down! (Beckon with hand.) For I m going to your house today. (Clap in rhythm.) For I m going to your house today. (Clap in rhythm.) ACTIVITY 3: A story for today SAY: Zacchaeus had done some things he was not very proud of. He knew he had done wrong. When Jesus was kind and treated him so nicely, Zacchaeus felt badly for all those bad things he had done. He decided he wanted to change, but he needed God s help. Jesus offered this help to him. ASK: Have you every done things you knew you shouldn t do? How did you feel afterward? Did you ever want to change, but you didn t know how to start? SAY: Listen to this story about (insert name) who gets a chance to prove that she can do what she should do. (Writers: here insert a story about a child who had done things that she is sorry for. After someone was kind to her she changed. Some examples: Someone often did their chores poorly and later changed to be more

5 careful when doing their chores; Or - Someone was often unkind to a brother or sister.) 4. CLOSE IN PRAYER SAY: During the last few Sundays, we have been learning about Jesus Jesus the boy, Jesus the Son of God, Jesus the teacher, Jesus the healer. God sent Jesus so that we could know more about what God is like. If we follow Jesus example, then we, too, can be Jesus disciples. PRAY: Dear God, thank you for loving us. We know that we are not always perfect, but because you love us just as we are, we try harder to live as you want. Amen.

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