Kids Bible Stories: Zacchaeus & Me
by : God
(Adapted by: Steve C. Mathisen from Edmonds, Wa)
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Zacchaeus & Me
My name is Jonah. You don’t know me but, maybe you know about my uncle Zaccheaus. I’ve always just called him my Uncle Zach. That’s a lot easier to say than Zacchaeus. He’s been taking care of me ever since I was very little. My parents both died when they were attacked by robbers on the highway to Jerusalem from our home in Jericho. He was the only family left to me and he took me into his home and raised me ever since, just like I was his own son.
Most people in our town thought that Uncle Zach was just a rich thief before he met Jesus, but, they don’t know him the way that I knew him back then. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t what you would call a really nice man. But, he worked hard to make sure that we had everything that we needed.
It was shortly after he took me in that I realized how rich he was. The Romans had conquered our country and appointed all of our government rulers. Uncle Zach was a tax collector for the Romans in our town. He was not only a tax collector for our town, he was the head tax collector in our town and all of the surrounding town tax collectors brought the taxes that they collected to him. He kept part of what he collected and he took part of that money that the other tax collectors brought to him and then he paid the Romans what they were supposed to get. That made him very, very rich.
There were a few problems with that though. People in our town didn’t talk to us much. Most of the other kids wouldn’t play with me at school (especially once their parents learned who my uncle was). It was really lonely. Nobody liked Uncle Zach very much and because I was his nephew, they didn’t like me either. They didn’t like anyone that worked for the Romans. They especially didn’t like anyone that collected taxes for the Romans. People hated the Romans. They hated paying taxes to Rome and to the temple in Jerusalem. They especially didn’t like the fact that Uncle Zach could collect as much tax as he wanted. He just had to pay the Romans their share. He always collected extra. He told me that he just collected enough for an honest wage, but we sure lived well.
We lived in a really nice house. It was a really big house. It was the only one in town with a really big open courtyard in the middle of the house. It had lots of trees and a garden and a fountain and stuff. We also had places on the roof that we could go up and sit or sleep on hot nights. We had servants and horses and a chariot and sheep and goats and big fields to grow our food and plenty of everything that we could possibly want or need. Uncle Zach said that if we couldn’t have friends, we should at least be comfortable. But, all of that was before he met Jesus. That’s what I really want to tell you about. That was a really great day!
It began pretty much like any other day. It was warm and dry and a little windy. I was outside playing in the courtyard with my toy soldiers when I heard the people running by shouting that Jesus was coming to our town. There were rumors that there was a prophet that healed people and talked the way that no one else ever had about God. His name was Jesus and he was different from anybody else that I had ever heard of. People said that he could do anything.
I ran inside to tell my Uncle Zach and he got a real curious look on his face. A look like he could see something far, far away that I couldn’t see. Then, he jumped up and ran out of the house. I followed him as long as I could, but, I couldn’t keep up with him for very long. Even though he was pretty short, he could really run fast.
When I finally caught up with him, he was trying to see Jesus, but he had a problem. You see Uncle Zach is really short. I mean that he is really, really short. When I was about 10 he was just a little taller than me. You should have seen him trying to see Jesus. He tried to get through the people to get to the front of the crowd, but no one would let him through. He tried running around to the edge of the crowd, but people kept blocking his way. Finally, he had shinnied up a Sycamore tree and was watching the crowd of people with Jesus walk by. There were a lot of people there that day. I had never seem so many people before and I could hear them talking about Jesus, so I figured that Jesus had to be in the middle of that crowd.
I went over to the tree that Uncle Zach had climbed and tried to climb up after him, but, I couldn’t do it. That’s when I heard him speak for the first time. Jesus, I mean. He was telling my Uncle Zach to come down from the tree because he was going to have dinner with us. He said, “Zacchaeus! Quick, come down for I must be a guest in your home today.”
The crowd got really quiet for a minute and then people started complaining that Jesus was going to have dinner in the house of a sinner. They were calling my Uncle Zach a sinner! They called him scum! That made me real mad! Those people were saying the Uncle Zach was a sinner just because he collected taxes for the Romans!
Anyway, Uncle Zach jumped down from that tree and ran home even faster than he ran here. You should have seen him leaving a cloud of dust, holding his robe up so that it didn’t get in the way of his legs as they ran. It was a little funny to watch.
Well, anyway, by the time I got home, all the servants were running around like crazy getting the house ready for a big dinner. I had never seen such a commotion. Except for the Roman soldiers that stopped by once a month to pick up the tax money, we didn’t get many visitors.
This time was very different. Uncle Zach was so excited about having Jesus come to dinner at our house that he invited almost the whole town. He even invited the people that were calling him a sinner and scum. Some of them turned out to be the men that were in charge of the synagogue. I think that they were called Rabbis or Pharisees or Scribes or something. Well, he invited just about everybody in town.
When Jesus arrived with his friends, I went up to a place up on the roof so that I could sit and watch the whole thing going on in the courtyard and stay out of everyone’s way. I could see Uncle Zach talking to Jesus, I heard him say the strangest thing to Jesus. Jesus was sitting down and He looked Jesus in the eye and said, “I will give half of my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much.”
It got real quiet in the courtyard that day. People could not believe what they had heard. Then Jesus said so that everyone could hear, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham. And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost.”
Now, I didn’t understand all of that but, later I went downstairs. I wanted a closer look at this Jesus for myself. Uncle Zach found me and excitedly took me to Jesus and introduced me directly to Him. I couldn’t believe that I was standing there with him. I just stood there and stared at him. I didn’t know what to say. But, Jesus bent down and took my hand and looked me right in the eye. He told me that He was very, very glad to meet me. I still couldn’t speak. It was like He was reaching right inside of me and touching my heart. I stood there and stared at Him for another long minute and then I rushed over to Him and just hugged Him for all I was worth. He hugged me back real strong and I felt warm and tingly all over my outsides and my insides. Somehow, I just knew that He loved me more than anyone else ever had or could. He loved me more than my Uncle Zach and even more than my mom and dad. I just knew that knowing Jesus and loving Him was the most important thing in my whole life.
I realized later that Jesus came to Jericho just to meet my Uncle Zach and me. Our lives would never, ever be the same. For instance, Uncle Zach went all over town to find people that he collected too much tax money from and gave the extra money back…just like he told Jesus that he would. And then he would give them four times as much as he took wrongly….just like he told Jesus he would. Uncle Zach really changed after he met Jesus. He became the nicest man I ever knew. People in town didn’t run and hide from him anymore. He made lots of friends and our house was a place that people like to come and visit.
My life changed too. I worked a lot harder at making new friends and being a good friend to them. I also told all of my new friends about the time that Jesus came to town to meet my Uncle Zach…and me.
Do you know Jesus? Do you know that He loves you more than anyone else in the whole world ever could? Would you like to meet him too? If you don’t know Jesus and want to meet Him, talk to your Sunnday school teacher or one of your church leaders or your parents and ask them to help you to know Him. Do it today!
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