Scripture: Luke 19: 1-10
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)
· Older children will locate the story of Zacchaeus in their Bibles. Younger children will learn that the story is in Luke.
· The children will learn or review the story of Zaccheus.
· The children will play a game based on cheating.
· The class will discuss real-life cheating in relation to Zacchaeus, and relate the story to the concepts above.
Welcome and Introductions:
1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag. Make sure the children are wearing nametags.
2. Open with a brief prayer.
3. Explain the purpose of this workshop. Today we’re going to hear the story of Zacchaeus, a famous cheater, then we’re going to play a game where you actually are allowed to cheat.
1. Grades 1-2 will not use Bibles, but do open yours to show them where the story is. For grades 3-5, make sure everybody has a Bible.
Help the students to
find the book of Luke. (Get the shepherds to go around the room and help with
this.) Many of the kids will already know the four Gospels. If necessary,
remind them that the Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments. Each
part is made up of books, which are divided into chapters and verses. Ask
whether Luke is in the Old or New Testament (It tells about Jesus so it’s in
the New Testament). Make sure everyone knows that Luke is the third book in the
After they’ve found Luke, help them find chapter 19, verse 1. Some of the children will confuse chapters and verses. Show them that chapter numbers are the big ones, and also are at the top of every page.
3. Read the story from the CEV, or retell it in your own words. With fifth-graders, you might let the kids take turns reading. After the first Sunday of the rotation, you can let the children help you tell the story. This will give you an idea of how much they already know. Other ideas for reviewing the story in later weeks:
Begin the story and let each person in the circle add one line to the story until it is complete. Help them tell the COMPLETE story.
Tell the story with inaccuracies (Zacchaeus was a really tall guy, he was a farmer, he invited Jesus to his house, etc.) and let the kids correct you (especially fun for the younger ones -- but don’t do this until the later part of the rotation).
Photocopy the passage (remove verse numbers), cut it up and see if they can put it back together correctly.
Play Cheater! Cheater! This is a relay race where each team member tries to cheat without getting caught. (Source: Linda Lawler, Educational Patterns for Children's Ministry)
Set up 2 containers of pennies in the middle of the room. Set up 2 empty containers at one end of the room.. Have the kids line up in 2 lines at the other end of the room.
Designate the first children in each line to be cheater catchers. Have them stand behind the opposite team’s penny container in the middle of the room. It is their job to try to catch the opposite team's runner trying to cheat by taking more than 1 penny.
The first child in each line: runs to the container of pennies. He is allowed to take 1 penny, but he can try to take 2 or 3 pennies without getting caught by the cheater catcher. If the cheater catcher catches him taking more than 1 penny, he calls out "Cheater!" and the runner has to stop and show his penny.
If the runner has more than 1 penny, he has to give all the pennies he has in his hand to the other team. If the cheater catcher makes a wrong call, then his team must give 2 pennies to the other team.
The runner then runs to the empty container where he puts his penny. (The cheater catcher cannot call "cheater" once a runner deposits his pennies in his team's container.) Next the runner runs back to the chairs in the center of the room, where he becomes the next cheater catcher for his team.
The first cheater catcher then runs back to his team, tags the first in line and goes to the end of the line. The tagged team member becomes the next runner.
Repeat until everyone has had a chance to be a cheater catcher and a runner. The team with the most pennies wins.
Gather the children back in the circle and discuss:
In our game today it was fun to try to cheat. How many of you were able to get away with cheating? How did you feel when you didn't get caught? How did you feel when did get caught?
How do you feel when someone really cheats you? It's fun to play a game once in awhile where we can get away with cheating. But when we cheat in real life, we worry about getting caught. If we don’t get caught, we still know we’ve done something wrong.
Do you remember what Zacchaeus did for a living (He was a tax collector.) Back in Jesus’ time, tax collectors often cheated people by taking more money from them than they owed in taxes. Then they kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors got very rich that way, and they got away with it because the Roman government allowed it. Do you think the people in Bible times liked tax collectors? (No, they hated them because they had cheated them out of their money).
What happened that changed Zacchaeus? (He met Jesus; he wanted to live Jesus way.) When we choose to follow Jesus, God changes our whole life. )
How do we know Zacchaeus wanted to live Jesus' way? (He said he would give half his money to the poor, and he would pay back more money than he had taken to the people he had cheated.) When we are sorry, we want to make up for the things we have done wrong.
Cheating is not the only thing that people try to get away with. What are some other things that we try to get away with? (We try to get away with doing sloppy work, or we try to sneak out of doing our work altogether. We say unkind things about people and hope they don’t find out. Etc. Accept all answers.)
The cheating that Zacchaeus did was probably legal, because the Roman government allowed tax collectors to take whatever they could. But even though it was legal it wasn’t fair – just like in our game, cheating was allowed but it wasn’t fair. There are a lot of situations in real life that are allowed, but they’re not fair. (Ask for examples or give a few, such as – some people are born into rich families, and some people are born poor. Some people live in free countries and some live in dictatorships. Some people get jobs or get into certain clubs because of who they know or who their parents know. Some kids get a lot of Christmas presents and some don’t get any.). Sometimes we can do something to change an unfair situation (like giving presents to kids through Family Ties) and sometimes we can’t. As Christians, we are responsible for treating other people as fairly as possible even when the law allows us to do otherwise.
Recite the Bible memory verse learned in the Great Hall. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." --Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)
This means that God will help us to do the right things.
Pass out the journal pages and ask the shepherds to pass out pencils/markers. (TIP: Fill in the “workshop” blanks ahead of time; otherwise, the children will spend the entire journal time spelling out “Antioch Arcade.”) Optional: Give the children a sticker, a penny, or some other memento to paste in their journal as a reminder of the workshop.
Tell the children to write or draw a picture of something they sometimes try to get away with, and what they can do this week to make up for it.
Encourage the children to bring an offering next week. Remind them that their offering during this rotation goes to One Great Hour of Sharing. Presbyterians all over the country give to this offering every year, and the money is used to help people all over the world who are in situations that aren’t fair, like people who don’t have enough to eat or a way to earn a living, or people who have been in disasters like floods and earthquakes.
Prayer: Close with a brief prayer. Suggestion: God, forgive us for the wrong things we do and show us how we can make up for things we do that hurt other people. Let Jesus live in our hearts and show us how to treat other people fairly. Amen
Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help collect Bibles, penny jars, journal pages, etc. After the room is tidy, dismiss the class.
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.
2. Prepare opening and closing prayers.
3. In your bin of supplies are two books of maps. With older children, you might find one that locates Jericho and point it out while reviewing the story.
4. Write the scripture memory verse on the white board (use dry-erase marker from supply bin) or display it in the room some other way.
5. Prepare containers of pennies for the game. If space in room allows, you can place them on chairs instead of on the floor.
4 containers for game
Pennies for game
Pencils (in supply bin; the shepherds also have pencils)
Journal sheets (will be given to you at the Leaders Bible Study)
Zacchaeus Follows Jesus. Linda Lawler, Educational Patterns for Children’s Ministry, http://www.edupatterns.com/lesson_36.htm