The Story of Zacchaeus: A Fun Bible Lesson for Sunday School

It can be challenging to develop Bible lessons for kids’ ministry. Some stories in the Bible can be complex for young children to understand. The story of Zacchaeus, however, is excellent for young children, because it is simple and has a powerful message. 

The story of Zacchaeus teaches about the life-changing power of our lord. It teaches the good news, that turning to God leads to a change of heart. Let’s look at the story of Zacchaeus, and how we can use it as a Bible lesson for kids.

Introduce the Kids to the Story of Zacchaeus

The Bible story today is the story of a man named Zacchaeus. In the story, Zacchaeus goes from making the wrong choices to the right ones. But something happened to Him before He changed.

Zacchaeus met Jesus and it changed his life. Zacchaeus made an effort to find Jesus, so his heart was changed. 

Read the Story of Zacchaeus to the Kids

The Story of Zacchaeus

The story we are learning today comes from the Bible. In Luke 19:1-10 the Bible says this,

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Talk About the Background of the Story of Zacchaeus

All of this stuff actually happened 2,000 years ago. Jesus was the Son of God. He went from town to town doing miracles and preaching to people. 

Explain the Story of Zacchaeus

Jesus came to the city of Jericho and the crowd was thick. There were so many people who wanted to see Jesus. 

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus too, but Zacchaeus was a short man. He couldn’t see over the crowd. 

Because Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus so much, he climbed a sycamore-fig tree. From there, he was able to see Jesus. Not only that, but Jesus was able to see him. 

Jesus saw Zacchaeus and called him down from the fig tree. After that, Jesus told Zacchaeus that he would go eat at Zacchaeus’ house. 

Zacchaeus was excited that he was going to be able to eat with Jesus, so they went to his house. 

Although Zacchaeus was excited to eat with Jesus, not everyone was thrilled about it. The people called Zacchaeus a sinner, and they made fun of Jesus for eating with him.

Why did they do that?

The Problem with Tax Collectors

Tax Collectors

The reason that people made fun of eating with Zacchaeus, was that Zacchaeus was a tax collector. 

In Jesus’ time, tax collectors worked for the Roman government. When people lived in Rome, they owed the Romans money for living there. Today we pay taxes too. Whenever you buy something or make money, the government takes some of that money. Today, IRS agents are like the tax collectors in Jesus’ time. 

The tax collectors’ job was to go and get the money people owed to the Romans and give it to the Romans. 

The only problem was that the tax collectors took more money than they were supposed to, and kept some for themselves. They were stealing from people, so people did not like them.

Not only was Zacchaeus a tax collector, but he was the chief tax collector. He was in charge of the tax collectors, which meant that he was responsible for the people who were stealing money. 

Although people hated Zacchaeus, Jesus had unconditional love for him. That means that no matter what Zacchaeus did, Jesus was still going to love him. 

Zaccheaus’ Heart Was Changed

Zacchaeus decided to make the right choice, and he returned all of the money that he had stolen. His heart was transformed. Before meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus was a thief. After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus was generous. 

Zacchaeus did the right thing, and he lived a new life after being around Jesus. 

Lessons from the Story of Zacchaeus

There are a couple of things that we can learn from the story of Zacchaeus. The first lesson is that Jesus loves people unconditionally and the second is that Jesus can change your heart. 

Jesus Loves People Unconditionally 


In Zacchaeus’ story, he was not a good person. He stole money from people and was dishonest. Although he was not a good person, Jesus still loved him. Jesus showed love for Zacchaeus by spending time with him and going over to his house. 

Whenever we mess up by stealing, lying, or hurting someone, people might not like us. Even though people might not like us, Jesus still loves us when we mess up. That doesn’t mean that we should do whatever we want, but it does mean that Jesus still wants to spend time with us when we do mess up. 

Jesus can change your heart

Zacchaeus had a bad heart. He was selfish and cared more about money than people. Even though he had a bad heart, that changed whenever he met Jesus. 

When Zacchaeus met Jesus, he had a heart transformation from being selfish to being generous. He started to care for people more. He gave his money to the poor and repaid the people he had stolen from. 

Before we know Jesus, we might have a bad heart. We might be angry or mean, but Jesus can change our hearts.

Instead of being mean or angry, we can be kind and caring for the people around us. All it takes is for us to say, “Yes” to a relationship with Jesus. Whenever we have a relationship with Jesus, He can change our hearts. 

Memory Verse 

Luke 19:10

The Bible tells us that we should hide God’s word in our hearts, and we do that by memorizing Bible verses. Today’s Bible verse comes from the story that we learned. It is in Luke 19:10. It says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

  • Read the verse to the kids
  • Have the kids read the verse with you
  • Have the kids read the verse as a group
  • Read the verse as a large group again

Fun Zacchaeus Song

To help us remember the story of Zacchaeus, we are going to sing a song. 

Here are the lyrics to the song:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man

And a wee little man was he

He climbed up in a sycamore tree

For the Lord he wanted to see

And when the Savior passed that way

He looked up in the tree

And said, ‘Zacchaeus, you come down!

For I’m going to your house today!

For I’m going to your house today!’

Zacchaeus was a wee little man

But a happy man was he

For he had seen the Lord that day

And a happy man was he;

And a very happy man was he”

  • Play a Youtube Video of the song so the kids can hear what it should sound like
  • Play it again, but have the kids sing along to the song

Coloring Page 

The story of Zacchaeus is a great Bible lesson for kids to learn and teaches them about God’s unconditional love and the he can change their hearts.

For more Bible lesson ideas, check out our Bible lesson on the creation story for youth groups. 

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