Lesson Objective: Where does change come from, and why is it important? The story of Zacchaeus is significant, and not just for the fun song and tree-climbing crafts. This encounter reminds us that Jesus has power to transform our lives. He changes our hearts! Use lemonade (sour and sweet) as an object lesson to illustrate how adding something (to a drink or our lives) can completely alter taste! Just as putting sugar in lemon juice makes it sweet, letting Jesus be part of our lives can “sweeten” us! While outward appearances might remain the same, knowing Christ makes us something new and better.
Download our complete Zacchaeus Sunday School Lesson from Luke 19:1-10.
Law/Gospel Theme: Jesus changes us, and we can change others. In our own power, we are not capable of heart transformation. We don’t somehow work up enough strength to alter our attitudes, but when we know that we have Christ in our lives, we recognize that anything is possible. His death and resurrection give us new life. As a result, we should naturally want to help others and tell them about the life-changing ability of our Lord.
Optional Materials: (Optional) Water, lemon juice, sugar, pictures of sycamore trees, Bible.
Bible Passage: Luke 19:1-10
Children’s Sermon Lesson on Zacchaeus and Jesus
Message: Note: As with most messages, the details of how you choose to communicate this are adaptable and should cater to timing as well as to your audience and student needs.
Greet children with a prepared demonstration, if possible: present two pitchers of lemonade, one without any sweetener, and the other with sugar added. Make sure the pitchers are clear so that the liquid inside is visible. Use another drink or demonstration if preferred.
Hello, Children of God!
I want to share something with you today. Take a look at these pitchers. Do you see a difference between the two? They look about the same, don’t they? Well, let’s take a little taste sample—can you help me with that? Pour a small sample for one or two students, using first the unsweetened lemon juice, and then the sugared one.
Okay, how does this taste? Await reactions. It’s a little tart, isn’t it?
Hmm, well, let’s try this one… does that taste better? There’s quite a difference between these two, even though in appearance they look the same. Well, for the most part they are the same. Both of these pitchers contain lemon juice, mixed with a little water. But one of them had another ingredient added to it…can you guess what that might be? That’s right, the second pitcher had sugar! It makes quite a change to the drink. In fact, it totally transforms the whole thing!
You know, sometimes our lives can be transformed by adding something—or someONE to them. We don’t change our own hearts, but when we have Jesus in our lives, He makes us different! He sweetens our lives in the best of ways. We might look the same on the outside, but the Holy Spirit rearranges us from the inside out, and remarkable things can happen as a result.
This reminds me of a Bible story about a man named Zacchaeus. You might have heard of him before. Zacchaeus had a couple of things going against him. For one thing, he was very short. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it can make it hard to do certain things, and it also probably made him self-conscious. But there was another challenge working against him: Zacchaeus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were very unpopular. In fact, most people really hated them, because they were basically lying thieves. Tax collectors could tell you that the government required a certain amount of money, but they might give you a number higher than the real one, and then pocket the extra cash. Tax collectors didn’t have many friends. Well, Zacchaeus must have heard something about Jesus and the amazing things He was doing, because when he heard that the savior would be coming his way, he decided he wanted to see him. Zacchaeus, being short, climbed a tree, just so he could get a glimpse of the master. He got a lot more than that. Jesus was walking by, and looked right up to the sycamore perch and called Zacchaeus by name. He knew exactly who he was, and he invited Zacchaeus to get down out of the tree. He also announced he would be going to his house! Well, some people scoffed and complained at that. But Jesus knew that Zacchaeus needed him, and that his heart could be changed. Zacchaeus announced that he was going to turn his life around. He would give back and then some if he had cheated anyone. He would do the right thing instead of sneaking and lying. Zacchaeus was still short, but on the inside, his life was a lot sweeter!
Jesus changes hearts. Our lives ought to be transformed by encounters with Christ. When we remember what He has done and continues to do for us, we should reflect that in our daily attitudes and actions. We should want to serve and please Him, and should also want to tell others about Him! He makes our lives sweet and wonderful, and we want to share that good news with others. So what are you waiting for? Thank God for His love, and tell others about Him!
Let’s say a prayer now to thank God for transforming our lives from the inside out.
(Have kids repeat each line)
Thank you for changing our lives
And making us a new creation
Please help us to live faithfully for you
And tell others about you
Thank you for your love
We love you, God!
In Jesus name, Amen!
Bible Verses/story to Reference:
He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” -Luke 19:1-10