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Zacchaeus Goes Out on a Limb
Theme: Salvation comes to Zacchaeus. Proper 26(31) Yr. C
Object: A tape measure.
Scripture: Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9-10 (NIV)

How tall are you? I thought it might be fun to measure some of you and see how tall you are. (Take a few minutes to measure some of the children.) Well, some of you are rather tall and some of you are shorter than some of the others.

I can remember when I was the age of some of you. I wasn't very tall. Many times I had trouble reaching things that were up on a high shelf. Sometimes, I would have to stand on a footstool or pull up a chair to stand on to reach what I wanted. If there was a tall person sitting in front of me at the movie, I would have to lean from side to side to see around them or sit on my knees to see over them. You face a lot of problems when you are short, don't you? I don't have to tell you about the problems of being short in a world full of tall people. You face that problem every day.

Today's Bible lesson is about a man who was very short. His name is Zacchaeus. You all know his story. You learned it when you weren't much more than a baby and you learned this song on your mother's lap:

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 as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in the tree,
And he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down!"
For I'm going to your house today.
For I'm going to your house today.

This is the whole story of Zacchaeus that we find in our Bible lesson today.

Jesus was traveling through the streets of Jericho, where a man named Zacchaeus lived. He was the tax collector and he desperately wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd that lined the street. He ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree beside the road. Jesus would pass right by him and he would get a good view from the tree.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Come down quickly. I am going to be a guest in your home today."

Zacchaeus scampered down from the tree and took Jesus to his house. The people in the crowd were shocked! You see, Zacchaeus was one of the most hated men in all of Jericho. Why did the people hate him? Because he was a thief and a cheat! He had become very rich by collecting more taxes than people owed and keeping it for himself. The people could not believe that Jesus would go to the home of a man like that!

Zacchaeus knew that he had cheated people and when he and Jesus arrived at his house, he confessed and said that he was sorry for what he had done. He said to Jesus, "I am going to give half of all that I own to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

Because Zacchaeus was sorry for what he had done and confessed his sin, Jesus forgave him and said, "Today salvation has come to this house. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Yes, Zacchaeus was a wicked man! But when he met Jesus, his life was changed. It doesn't matter if you are short or tall, when you meet Jesus, he will change your life too.

Heavenly Father, we know that when we meet Jesus, it will be a life-changing experience. Thank you for sending him into our world to seek and save the lost. In his name we pray. Amen.

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An alternate sermon based on Luke 19:1-14: "A Little Man with a Big Problem"
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