Children’s Story: Zacchaeus and Jesus

By FMCSF Youth Group

Note: Our church’s youth group rewrote the Gospel stories for each Sunday of Lent and then presented them as children’s stories during worship.

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 18

Luke 19:1-10 (Jesus and Zacchaeus)

While traveling with his poor people’s movement, Jesus and his friends, had a protest march in Manhattan, New York. Manhattan is one of the biggest places for business and trade in the United States.

A man there was named Zacchaeus and he was the biggest property owner in Manhattan. Since he owned so much property he was able to charge high rent because people had very few other options. This made him very rich.

The people in Jesus’ movement knew about him. They knew that he was young and that he had inherited his wealth from his father. They did not like him at all. In the past they had protested at one of his corporate offices, singing movement songs about rent control.

Zacchaeus, who was often curious about social movements, had heard about Jesus and wanted to see him. So he got in his Hummer and drove as close to the poor people’s march as he could get. Inevitably the streets were closed off and although the police officers let him through multiple barricades (because they knew who he was), he couldn’t make it all the way to Jesus.

He parked at the edge of the street where the march was happening and stood up on top of his Hummer to get a better look. He was someone who was used to being above other people and having the best view.

Much to his surprise, when Jesus walked past his Hummer he looked right up at him. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down from your elevated position, for I am headed to your multi-million dollar home today.”  Without hesitation Zacchaeus scrambled down from his Hummer and was eager to show Jesus to his penthouse loft.

The people in the march were taken aback. “Why would Jesus want to spend time with that crooked businessman… that oppressive corporate landlord? Didn’t Jesus know that there’s no way Zacchaeus could be part of the movement??”

However, at the entrance to his building Zacchaeus made a bold announcement. “I am giving away half of my wealth and assets to my poorest renters. They will own the homes they live in. And anyone I have cheated, by jacking up the rent every year, I will repay them four times what they paid me.”

In response Jesus said, “Today Zacchaeus you have made clear that you understand what my movement is about. You are liberated, as you give up the means to exploit people. You were lost in your attachment to wealth, but now you are found in this movement we call the kingdom of God.”

Like we’ve been talking about during Lent, Jesus said and did things that people did not expect. He stood with the poor because they were treated as less than human, and challenged the rich because they were inhumane, addicted to privilege and power.

Jesus was a poor person who was teaching other poor people and together they were creating a movement to change the world. He called the movement the “kingdom of God.” The movement was about being in healthy relationships with each other and working together for justice. It was about sharing, about everyone having enough food and everyone having a home and being free.