My name is Zacchaeus. I am a very rich man. I am also a very short man. Now, that’s not such a hard thing except when I am in a crowd. I have trouble seeing over people, or anything very high. But I want to tell you about a time when being short helped me to meet Jesus.
I had heard a lot about Jesus and His wonderful power. I had heard about the miracles He did and the stories He told. I wanted to see Him.
One day Jesus was going to be coming through my town of Jericho. I went out early so I could get a good place near the front of the crowd. I knew that I would not be able to see over all the people so I needed to arrive before they did. But I wasn’t early enough. A huge crowd of people had gathered there already! They must have been excited to see Jesus, and wanted to be near the front of the crowd too. As I looked around me I noticed a large sycamore tree. It was a little way up the road. I ran to the tree and climbed up onto a branch. I thought it was a pretty clever thing to do because I had a good view of the road from there. The tree had lots of leaves so I was sure no one would see me. But I was wrong!
Before long I heard some people in the crowd saying that Jesus was coming. I peeked through the leaved and, sure enough, there He was.
When He reached the sycamore tree that I was in, He stopped and looked up at me. He said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down from that tree because today I am going to go to your house.”
I was so surprised! How did Jesus know I was in that tree? How did He know my name? I didn’t stop to question Him. I hurried down from that tree as fast as I could. Jesus was coming to my house!
People all around started to complain. They couldn’t believe that Jesus would come to my house. They did not like me because I was not an honest person.
I didn’t listen to the people. I just stood there next to Jesus and told Him that I had done many wrong things. I had taken money from people, but now I was sorry. I told Jesus I would pay back all that money. In fact, I would even pay four times the amount that I had taken. That meant if I had taken one dollar from someone I would give back four dollars!
Do you know what Jesus did then? He forgave me! And as He talked to me, such a happy feeling came into my heart. I felt so good and clean inside. I still do. I’m very glad that Jesus loves me and has the power to forgive sin.
When God changed Zacchaeus’ heart, Zacchaeus became the opposite of what he had been before. To help your child visualize the concept of opposites, make up a matching game with a series of flashcards showing opposites. If your child can read, use words. If not, illustrate the objects with simple line drawings.
Talk about the change God made in Zacchaeus’ heart. While he still looked the same on the outside, inside he was completely different. Conclude your series of pictures with a clean, unspotted heart contrasted with a spotted, “sin-smudged” heart.