Primary Pals for Teachers
Unit 11 - God's Power Works Through Jesus

TEXT: Luke 19:1-10


The students will know that how God made a dramatic change in the life of Zacchaeus, and will be able to explain that Jesus has power to forgive our sins also.


Introduction: Bring a number of pairs of pictures illustrating a great change: child/adult, black/white sheet of paper, caterpillar/butterfly, etc. Discuss the change which took place in each case. Then tell your class that your story today illustrates the greatest change of all.

  1. A small man named Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector, desired to see Jesus when He passed through Jericho, but he could not see over the crowd because of his size.
  2. He ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree, hoping for a vantage point from which he could observe Jesus.
  3. When Jesus came by, he looked up into the tree and called Zacchaeus by name, telling him to come down from the tree.
  4. Jesus announced that he would go to Zacchaeus' house.

Climax: Zacchaeus experienced a miraculous change in his heart when he came down from the tree, receiving the Lord joyfully.

Conclusion: Zacchaeus' conversion was evidenced by his desire to repay fourfold all that he had wrongfully taken, and to give half of his goods to the poor.

Response: Your students will be able to describe the miracle that takes place through God's power at conversion, by relating the story of Zacchaeus.


Zacchaeus, being a publican, was a man that had known the scorn of many people. A publican was a tax collector for the Roman government. The Roman Senate had found it convenient to have certain capitalists collect specified sums for them. These capitalists had a network of men under them, often natives, to do the actual collecting and these were the men that the Bible refers to as publicans. They were often encouraged by their superiors to be arbitrary and fraudulent. The common people were met by these publicans on roads, bridges, markets, harbors, and city gates. The contents of every bundle had to be searched and an often arbitrary value was fixed and a tax imposed.

The publicans were looked on with disdain and the situation in Palestine was even worse, where the patriotic Jews felt tribute should be paid only to God. In Palestine the publicans were considered defiled by frequent contact with heathens, traitors, and the spiritually bankrupt.

After feeling the hatred, bitterness and rejection of so many, how refreshing the words of Jesus must have sounded to Zacchaeus, "To day I must abide at thy house" (Luke 19:5).


  • Show what a rich man Zacchaeus was by taking a lot of money to class. After Jesus changed his heart, demonstrate how he was willing to give half to the poor and four times what he had taken, back to the people from whom he had taken it. Maybe he had taken an apple from a store. Give back four times that amount. Or use a pencil or some other object to which the students will relate.
  • Use tree picture with leaves, on brad, covering Zacchaeus (see Patterns).
  • Use finger puppets to represent Jesus, Zacchaeus, and the crowd (see Patterns).
  • Make a money bag for each child. Give each one some pennies, play money, or chips to represent money. Have "Zacchaeus" take money from them and then when he loves Jesus he will return the money fourfold.
  • Make paper caterpillars and butterflies for each of your students (see Patterns). Compare the caterpillar with Zacchaeus before he met Jesus, and the butterfly to Zacchaeus' new life after he met Jesus.
  • Set an extra place for snack time in your class. Pray and ask Jesus to be your Special Guest. Talk about what it means to have Jesus as a visitor. Remember that Jesus is always visiting with you!
  • Before class: On half of a sheet of black construction paper draw, with a pencil, Zacchaeus in a tree. On the other half draw him out of the free (see Patterns). Then trace over the drawings with a black crayon—press hard. As you tell the story during class, brush a thin coat of white or yellow paint over the construction paper to reveal the pictures. (The paint won't stick to the crayon.) You might want to do this on a larger scale for a review.
  • Make a wheel tree for each of your students (see Patterns). Let them connect the front and back of the tree with a brad. Have them turn the wheel to the correct places as you tell the story.
  • Make a sectional display of the memory verse for each child. Help him unfold it as you review the verse (see Patterns).


  1. If you knew Jesus was coming how would you prepare to meet Him?
  2. What must you do to be saved from your sins?
  3. Do people today have a problem "seeing" Jesus? Since He is not walking through our streets, in what ways may He be seen?
  4. What did Zacchaeus do to overcome his problem? What does this tell us in regard to how truly interested he was in seeing Jesus?
  5. Were his efforts rewarded? How do we know Jesus is always found by those who truly seek Him?
  6. How do you know that Zacchaeus was truly converted?
  7. What were the steps to conversion taken by Zacchaeus? How would you tell a friend the way to become a Christian?
  8. What does the word converted mean? What are some of the changes one expects in the life of one who is converted (or saved)?
  9. Is salvation offered to everyone? How do you know this?


  • Give each child a copy of the scribble picture of part of a tree and Zacchaeus in the branches (see Patterns). Allow your children to scribble in the remainder of the tree.
  • Use a small money bag or coin purse to "collect" some of the coins you have previously distributed to your students. Then return them fourfold after describing Zacchaeus' conversion.
  • Take a small heart box and fill it with dirty scraps of cloth, dark scraps of paper, and pennies. Liken this to Zacchaeus' heart before the Lord changed him. Then empty the heart and place in it a sticker of Jesus.
  • On a large construction paper heart, color in a number of sin spots. In the center of each sin spot tape a penny. Tell the children that this was what Zacchaeus' heart was like. But then Jesus took away the sin spots and Zacchaeus wanted to give back all the money he had taken from others.


Re-enact Zacchaeus' story in a modern-day manner—how Jesus changed his heart and how he took care of his wrongdoings.

Take two pieces of paper and write "Christian" on the front of them both. On the back of one put a clean heart. On the back of the other a dirty heart. Explain how the one goes to Sunday school, never does anything naughty when Mom isn't looking, is kind to his friends, helpful, etc. The other fights with others, hates his sister, etc. The first one has prayed and asked Jesus to come into his heart. He doesn't lie anymore or fight or cheat. He loves Jesus, his sister, etc. Ask the children which one is a Christian. Turn the paper around to show the clean heart on one and the dirty heart on the other. Explain how Zacchaeus asked Jesus into his heart and how he was changed. We must do the same to be a real Christian.

Introduce your group to the "Hose Family," made from six pieces of garden hose cut into different lengths. You will also need to have available three pieces of cloth (black, green, purple), cellophane, a nickel, a pitcher of water and a plant. Tell your group, "I brought a strange family with me today—the Hose Family. They are going to help me explain the lesson.

"Here is Mr. Hose. This plant looks thirsty, so we will give Mr. Hose some water and see if he will give it to the plant. No water comes out. (Pour water from pitcher, just a tiny bit, into hose but hose is plugged with black cloth.) He can't give water with sin in his heart. He has to get rid of sin first.

"Mrs. Hose is not as tall as her husband. (Pour tiny bit of water into hose to water plant.) She doesn't give water either. She is filled with green cloth—envy. Her envy of clothes and what others have keeps her from giving water.

"Henry is the oldest son. We will try him with water. No water comes out. He has a nickel in him. He is so busy getting money he doesn't have time to have Jesus in his heart. What does he need to do?

"Tom can't give water because of purple pride in his life.

"Esther can't give water because of cellophane. She thinks no one can see her heart, but God can and others don't trust her.

"Little Mary gives water as soon as she gets it. She doesn't have anything in her heart to keep her from hearing Jesus' Word and keeping it in her heart. Jesus lives in her heart."

Who in this story had a problem like Zacchaeus?


  • The Great Surprise — Arch Book, Concordia
  • Zacchaeus Meets the Savior — Arch Book, Concordia
  • Zacchaeus — Suedegraph, Standard Publishing
  • Zacchaeus Meets Jesus — A Happy Day Book, Standard Publishing
  • Later Life of Jesus — Pict-o-graph, Standard Publishing
  • Zacchaeus and Jesus — Palm Tree Bible Series, Concordia
  • Zacchaeus — Family Life Institute Tape No. 54
  • Up the Sycamore Tree — by Marie Hibna Frost, A Magic Picture Book, David C. Cook