from Neil MacQueen. www.sundaysoftware.com
This lesson is for use with the Zaccheus story found in Awesome Bible Stories
► Related Resource: Print our page of screenshots showing the narrated study notes found in the Zaccheus story.
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I love teaching Zaccheus because:
a) He is short like our kids.
b) He climbed a tree to see Jesus. But is is Jesus who saw HIM up the tree!
c) For many of our kids, Sunday School is that tree.
This lesson plan has a Bible Background for teachers, and also includes SCREENSHOTS of the “study notes” which pop up during the interactive story.
Neil’s Commentary on What the Zaccheus Story is About
Stuck in the middle of Zaccheus story is the story of the Rich Young Man. It can seem like an “interruption” but shouldn’t ignore it or diminish it. Here’s why: The young man is facing the same decision that Zaccheus “the rich OLD Man” is facing => You meet Jesus. You hear the Gospel, and you have a decision to make.
What was the difference between the young rich man and the old rich man? Great question for discussion there!
Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus. He wanted his life to be blessed.
That’s the transformative point in the story: We need to climb trees… to make the effort. And when we do, Jesus looks at us and calls us to change. The question is, Will We?
Now interestingly, and perhaps controversially, I DON’T think Zaccheus was a bad guy. The CROWD seems to think he is, but how often is the CROWD right in a Jesus story!!
The crowd has shunned this child of Abraham because of his job collecting taxes for the government. Say what you will about the Romans, but they were the govt and did provide govt services, such as building roads and keeping the peace. And we know that Jesus thinks we need to ‘render unto Caesar’ so let’s move on.
The crowd assumes Zaccheus is a cheat, and Zaccheus asks them to prove it. Nobody steps forward… except Jesus. CAN YOU FOOL JESUS? No. Jesus confirms Zaccheus’ heart by giving his blessing on the man’s household.
Maybe this is what Matthew 5:8 is telling us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Zaccheus saw Jesus that day. (If you have time, help the kids memorize Matthew 5:8.)
Now about the Invitation:
“TODAY, SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS MAN’S HOUSE.” Why? Because he is looking for the Christ, wants to be with Jesus, and knows the true value of his wealth and reputation. Jesus’ declaration begs the question: “how are WE looking for Christ and trying to be with him?”
The word “house” has a double meaning:
1) “House” in the Old Testament is often used to mean “family” as in “lineage”. And Jesus is an OT kinda guy. (Remember the line where God promises to build David a house?)
2) It is JESUS who is coming to the man’s house. Jesus is saying JESUS = SALVATION. Jesus is revealing WHO he is to those who want to listen.
The importance of these two points is this: Zaccheus thinks he is inviting Jesus to HIS house, when in fact, [b]it is JESUS who is doing the inviting of Zaccheus into HIS house…[/b] the family of salvation. But Zach has to want be looking for it and want it. That’s what happens when you go to church, you begin to see, and then you receive Jesus’ invitation to faith, and then you need to respond.
More Life Application:
1) Zaccheus was LOOKING for Jesus. And he made the extra effort to get up a tree so his view wouldn’t be blocked.
That’s what Sunday School is: A TREE. We get our kids up the tree to notice, and be ready for their encounter with Christ.
People let “crowded” schedules and other people’s priorities obscure their view. Zaccheus climbed above it, and Jesus took notice. Zaccheus put himself in a position to have his life changed. How are YOU doing that?
2) In my lesson, we’ll also pick up on the STATURE of Zaccheus. (The details of Zach’s shortness and tree climbing is no accident. It is inspired.) How short was he? In Jesus’ eyes, he was TALL. So our final question to the kids is this: “How do YOU measure up in the eyes of Jesus?” What can you improve on? After Jesus left Jericho, Zaccheus had some work to do.
THE LESSON PLAN:
We’re going to be using the Zaccheus story found in Awesome Bible Stories CD.
1. Begin by asking your kids “what they have done to try and follow Jesus”. Make a list for all to see. You may need to stoke it a bit. (You might draw your list in the shape of a tree to be sneaky.)
2. Draw a tall vertical arrow on the board. List Jesus on the top, the words, “nothing” on the bottom. Then invite students one by one to step up and write their name somewhere along the vertical line that represents “how hard they are trying to learn from and follow Jesus.”
3. Say as you Draw: Today, we are going to learn the story of a short little man who climbed a tree to find Jesus. Draw branches on your vertical arrow, and little stick figures next to each person’s name to represent them in the tree.
4. And then, TELL THEM the POINT you want them to take away at the end of the lesson (don’t save it til the end!)
“There are things we can do to see Jesus more clearly, and follow him more nearly (day by day), –like coming to Sunday School. And there are things we can do to fall out of the tree or let the crowd get in the way of seeing and spending time with Jesus.”
…You’ll follow up on “those things” in the software and afterwards, …depending on the age of your students and amount of time you have.
NOW DIVE INTO THE SOFTWARE:
1. Open up the Awesome Bible Stories software and turn on the Zaccheus story. Explain what parts you want them in what order. Write them on the board too.
2. View the Story and hear all the “butterfly notes” within the story. You may answer some at the computer or go over them again afterwards (see note graphics below).
3. STOP at the when all the butterflies appear at the end of the story. “We’ll go through those together” (if you wish).
Details about going through the story…
The Zaccheus story will pause at certain key points and a butterfly will fly around the screen. Click on it to open a narrated study note. It may take you a number of tries to click the butterfly just so. Its not supposed to be too easy, its supposed to be fun. Link to screenshots of those graphics. Print them!
At the END of the Zaccheus story youll see several colored butterflies, each one of which reveals a study note to ponder. These are more reflection oriented and would be good to do as a class together. Link to screenshots of those graphics. Print them!
4. After working through the story, take the Zapping Zaccheus quiz challenge. Zap the wrong answers to score. This is a memory-improving activity. You might play it again in a few weeks to recall and cement those memories.
5. Play the “How Do You Measure Up” game. This is a reflection activity which computes a score on how well you are living up to the Christian life. When more than one student is at the computer, have each take the test, then right down their score.
6. After they have received their “score”…Click the onscreen button to reveal all the measure-up test questions for further discussion with the class.
Have each student take off their shoes and kneel down on top of them (so they appear to be short!). Then have them pick one thing off the “measure up” list they want to improve on. Go around the circle in a prayer asking each person to share that one thing. Start with your own to give them an example. Conclude the prayer by praying that we all would “grow” in God, and find the strength to climb the tree and welcome Jesus into our lives and homes.
This lesson should take about 35-40 minutes and can easily stretch from 1st Graders through High Schoolers in the hands of an awesome teacher. Younger children may need help with the notes and clicking the butterflies.
BTW… this sounds like a great ART PROJECT to… creating ‘the tree’ and branches we use to get up to see Jesus over the crowd.”[/b] I’d probably make this as a church display, rather than a take-home.
Hope you like my lesson.
MORE ZACH STUFF!
► See and print my “At Home in the Kingdom of God” lesson set here at Sunday Software. In it are several OTHER lesson plans I wrote for Zaccheus. They include a copy of this computer lesson, a fun SKIT, and a video. Zaccheus is one of Jesus’ answers the question: “who’s welcome in God’s Kingdom?”