Lesson Eleven


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Memory Verse: Luke 19:10
Further Study: Luke 19:1-10; 12:13-21; The Desire of Ages, pp. 552-556; Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 252-259; The Bible Story, vol. 8, pp. 49-52

For quite a few years now our neighborhood has had a block party picnic. It’s a time when everyone on our street gathers in someone’s volunteered backyard and enjoys time together. Each year it is on Sabbath (Saturday), and we not only don’t go, but we tend to try to be away completely for the duration of the picnic.

One year the invitation arrived, and the picnic was on Sunday! The day rolled around, and it was a busy one with lots of things on our to-do list. My husband was fairly insistent that we go to the picnic. I was much more recalcitrant—my list was too long; I wasn’t in the mood; and we’d never gone before, so why now? But he won me over and we walked down the street to join the festivities.

We turned into the yard and were met with friendly faces running toward us. “We knew you would come!” they said repeatedly. Turns out the neighborhood council had purposely planned the picnic on a Sunday so we could come. Unbeknownst to us, they’d been watching.

Unbeknownst to us, they’d been watching.

Zacchaeus wasn’t a favorite in Jericho. He wasn’t on anyone’s list of do-gooders in the town. He’d gotten to his position by cheating, skimming, and overcharging. Now wealthy in material things, he was poor in friends and relationships. Excluded from parties, the synagogue, and ignored, his life couldn’t have been that great in the city. But unbeknownst to those who had written him off, he’d been watching. 

From the early days of John the Baptist, words of conviction were sifting into his soul. He’d heard of this Teacher for the past three-plus years and now He was passing through Zacchaeus’ hometown. Zacchaeus had heard the Teacher even had a tax collector as one of his closest disciples. Curious he aimed to get a glimpse as Jesus passed by from the vantage point of a sycamore tree.

While lessons from this story could go in any number of directions and it wouldn’t be hard to do so, let me focus on lessons related to children. First, they are watching. Children are perched in sycamore trees of their own. They are watching as adults pass by, whether they are the parent, grandparent, or church member. They are curious to discover Jesus. Will they see Him as you pass by their watchful perch?

They are curious to discover Jesus. Will they see Him as you pass by their watchful perch?

Second, children aren’t always loveable. If we’re honest, there are days when we don’t actually like our children. This can be due to terrible twos, argumentative pre-teens, or independent-thinking-without-experience teenagers. Most bad behavior is a day or a phase, but sometimes it lasts and lasts until we don’t know what to do. If this is your experience, remember Zacchaeus. His behavior on the outside wasn’t great, but inside the Holy Spirit was working. And one day He met Jesus.

That brings us to lesson three. Everyone at some point must come down from their tree. Christianity isn’t about living in trees and watching others. It’s about coming down to meet and walk with Jesus. Continue to invite your children down to meet Jesus. Don’t just let them simply watch life but invite them to a spiritual walk with Jesus and you.

Finally, as I have said before and can’t emphasize enough: One of the best places to meet Jesus is at the dining room table. Fellowship with your children. Eat with them. Talk of spiritual things. Teach lessons of a loving spirit just as Jesus sat and taught Zacchaeus in his home. Do this every day and all will be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

The story of Zacchaeus is familiar to most of us. What may be less familiar is where in Jesus’ ministry this event occurred. It was as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to attend the Passover for the last time. 

Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. Those headed to Jerusalem would travel the Jericho Road to the city, pass through it, and then continue. There were many crowds on the road since Passover was the following week. Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus was either as He approached the city or as He was leaving it. But most likely since Jesus went to a meal at Zacchaeus’ house it was as He entered the city.

What Zacchaeus couldn’t have understood then was that literally a week later, the Man he encountered on the narrow Jericho streets that completely changed his life, would be crucified and resurrected. How important it was that Zacchaeus followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to seek Jesus and give his heart and life to Him that day!

Making it Real

This is a week to practice some of the lessons from Zacchaeus.

  1. Talk to your children about Zacchaeus sitting in the tree. Ask them what he might have been watching for. How would he know Jesus when Jesus appeared? Ask them how they recognize Jesus in others.
  2. If you don’t do this already, eat a meal around the dining room table with everyone there at least three times this week. Spend time learning about each other’s day. Talk about the story of Zacchaeus and ask what might have been talked about in his home the day Jesus came to eat with him. What would you ask Jesus if He came to dinner at your house?
  3. Go for a spiritual walk this week. Take a walk and look for things that remind you of Bible stories. Walk can be in your neighborhood or in the woods. What things of nature or in your community help you learn more about Jesus?
  4. Seems obvious, but this is a great week to sing the Zacchaeus song at family worship complete with motions. Don’t know the song? Check it out here



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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