Story profiles provide a simple overview of the story along with highlights and points of interest. The story summary is written for kids. When possible, we try to provide an approximate date for the event covered in the story. A printable PDF for this profile is available here and all related activities are listed here.
Bible Story: Zacchaeus Met Jesus (AKA: Zacchaeus and the Sycamore Tree)
Bible Text: Luke 19:1-10
God’s Unfolding Story Element: God sent Jesus to help us.
The Book of Luke in the New Testament tells us there was a rich man named Zacchaeus who was a tax collector. Tax collectors got money from the people to give to the king. Some tax collectors were dishonest and took more money than they should from the people. They would keep the extra money for themselves. Zacchaeus was not an honest tax collector. He probably did not have very many friends because of the way he treated people.
One day, Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was in town. He was curious about Jesus and wanted to see Him. Crowds of people already had gathered as Jesus walked down the street. Zacchaeus was not very tall, so he could not see above the people’s heads. He decided to run ahead and climb up into a tree so he could watch as Jesus passed.
Zacchaeus found a nice large sycamore tree, climbed up the tree and waited for Jesus to come down the street. Zacchaeus watched as Jesus got closer. Suddenly, Jesus stopped right under the tree where Zacchaeus was sitting! Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because I am coming to your house today.” Many people around said, “Why would He go to the home of someone who is dishonest and unkind?” However, Jesus wanted Zacchaeus to know how much He loved him.
Zacchaeus quickly came down out of the tree and took Jesus to his home. Zacchaeus saw the love and kindness Jesus showed to him that day. He was sorry he had taken more money from the people than he should have taken. Zacchaeus told Jesus, “I will give back to the people more money than I took.” That day Zacchaeus chose to be a follower of Jesus.
- Jesus will make a difference in the lives of those who will trust him.
- No one is beyond the love of Jesus.
- Following Jesus is worth whatever it may cost us.
Point(s) of Interest:
- This story occurred in the town of Jericho, which was just a few miles east and a little north of Jerusalem. This would be the last stop Luke recorded before the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday (later in this same chapter). This is important because Jesus is now on His way to Jerusalem and the cross. Zacchaeus becomes an example of why Jesus came and why He would die soon after this. In His own words, Jesus came to “seek and to save the lost,” people just like Zacchaeus. People like you and me.
Luke does not tell us precisely when this event took place, but it wasn’t long before the Passion Week, or the week of the Triumphal Entry, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. As noted above, Jesus was already on His way to Jerusalem for the final time.