Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Bible Story & Lesson

BIBLE STORY: The Short Man In A Tree (Luke 19:1-10)

Preparation: Have the children stand an arm’s length from each other, if possible. Explain they are to move about in their own personal space and make any motions which fit the action of the story as they listen to it being told.

Story: Zacchaeus was sitting at his tax collector’s table counting money when he heard people around him say, “Jesus is coming. Jesus is coming here to Jericho.”

Zacchaeus pushed back his chair and jumped up! He wanted to see Jesus.

He started running in the direction the people were pointing. He ran and ran and ran until he came to a crowd of people. Zacchaeus was a short man and he could not see over the heads of the people in front of him.

So he stood on his tiptoes. He still could not see.

He stretched his neck up as high as he could while standing on his tiptoes. He still could not see Jesus.

Zacchaeus shrugged his shoulders and thought to himself: “What am I going to do? The people in front of me are bigger and taller than I am and I REALLY, REALLY want to see Jesus.”

Then -- over the heads of the people he saw a sycamore-fig tree. He didn’t take his eyes off that tree as he made his way around the crowd. He climbed up on a branch, sat down and waited for Jesus to come by.

When Jesus arrived at the tree, He looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down. I want to be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus’ eyes got big! Jesus was talking to HIM!

Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree. He skinned his knee getting down but he didn’t care. He was so happy Jesus wanted to go to his home! Zacchaeus could not stop smiling.

Zacchaeus’ life changed that day. Before he met Jesus, Zacchaeus was one of the biggest sinners in town. He took more money from the people than he should have. He ended up being rich because he cheated others.

Zacchaeus looked at Jesus and said: “I will give half of my wealth to the poor. I will also give back four times as much to those I have cheated.”

Jesus smiled at Zacchaeus and said, “You have been saved today. I have come to seek and save people who are lost.”

SONG: “Zacchaeus” (ABC’s of Praise album by Mary Rice Hopkins)

BIBLE VERSE: “The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10, NLT). Explain that “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for Himself.


Explain that you are the leader and everyone is to follow what you do. Walk to a corner of the room and say the verse together. Walk to another area of the room, sit on the floor and quote the verse together. If possible, go out in the hallway and other areas. At each new location, say the verse. Continue as time allows.

MAKE ‘N TAKE CREATIVE ACTIVITY: Zacchaeus In Sycamore Tree

Materials Needed for Each Child: Two pieces white cover stock paper, scissors, crayons, washable markers.

Activity: The children fold one sheet of the paper in half the long way, cut out a tree, and then color it. On the other sheet of paper they can draw and cut out Zacchaeus. He will need a slit between his legs so he will be able to sit in the tree. Encourage the boys and girls to take their project home and re-tell the Bible story to their families.

SNACK: Sycamore Tree

Needed for Each Child: Graham crackers broken into 1“ x 2 ½” pieces , white icing, green fruit loops, plastic knife, one sheet construction paper.

Activity: The children create trees from the graham crackers on a piece of construction paper. Icing is spread on the crackers and then green fruit loops placed to make leaves.