It’s important for children to begin thinking of Jesus as a real person who wants to have a personal relationship with them. Too often, they assume he’s only a distant historical figure. We must show them the living God is calling out to them through the Scriptures. This simple lesson will help younger children begin to think about a personal relationship with Jesus.
Bible Topic: Zacchaues & Our Relationship with Jesus
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, along with Luke 19:1-10
Target Age Group: Younger Elementary (age 6-8)
Learning Context: Any small group setting like Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 30 minutes
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Supplies: Before class, print (or cut out of magazine) pictures of a tree, money or money symbol, food or dishes.
Goal: This lesson seeks to show kids that God has a plan for each of our lives, and that part of that plan involves a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bible Lesson: Personal Relationship with Jesus
Read Jeremiah 29:11 to the class. Explain the verse to the kids, telling them that God has a plan for each of us, just as the verse says. Tell them that God’s plans are always better than ours, and that He knows what is best for each of us. Explain that even during difficult times, we can trust God’s plan for our lives because He doesn’t want to harm us. He loves us and wants to help us live a life that pleases Him.
Ask the kids if they have ever been in a really crowded place. Give an example if you have been in a crowded place (ex. Being at a football game trying to see a specific football player in a crowd, or maybe the kids can relate to a TV show or cartoon they’ve seen involving large crowds). Tell them how difficult it can be to see things that are far away when in a crowd.
Show the kids the pictures of the tree, food, money. Tell them not to say anything out loud, but to think about the pictures as you tell them today’s story.
Tell or read from your Bible the story of Zacchaeus. Sometimes telling the story in your own words helps the kids relate better to it. For instance, you may say that Jesus told Zacchaeus that he “wanted to go hang out with him” instead of just saying that Jesus said he wanted to stay at Zacchaeus’ house.
After the story, hold the pictures back up and ask the kids how they related to the story. Allow the kids to re-tell you the story by using the pictures.
Explain to the kids that God had a plan for Zacchaeus’ life and that God has a plan for their lives too. Tell them that Zacchaeus’ life was changed when he met Jesus, and that they can allow Jesus to change their life the way he did Zacchaeus’ life by having a personal relationship with Jesus.
Explain that having a personal relationship with Jesus means that:
- We understand that we are all sinners and have done and we do bad things – Romans 3:23
We believe the Jesus is God’s Son and that we accept the gift of forgiveness offered by Jesus when he died on the cross. We must believe that Jesus is the only one who can erase our sin. – Romans 5:8
- We must tell others that Jesus is our Savior. We must tell that Jesus erased our sins! – Romans 10:9-13
Note: This is just one way to explain salvation. You can also use the ABCs of Becoming a Christian, the Roman Road, etc. Use whatever method you are most comfortable with that children can understand. We have a whole series of articles about children & salvation.
You can also use a marker board with dry erase markers and show the kids that a black line equals our sin. Then you draw a cross in red over the black line. You then erase the black line because that’s what Jesus does to our sin. Remember also to just present the facts and not push anyone into salvation. Almost anyone who hears: “Would you like to go to heaven and live with Jesus?” is going to say yes. That doesn’t mean that he or she understands salvation and how to be saved. Make sure that you talk with any children who tell you that he or she would like to know more about becoming a Christian.
Pray and thank God that He has a plan for each of our lives and that having a personal relationship with his son Jesus Christ is part of that plan.
Coloring Page: Download our free coloring page that teaches the story of Zacchaeus.
Craft Suggestion: Have kids make gospel bracelets using string and colored beads.
- Black represents our sin
- Red represents Jesus’ blood that took our sins away
- White represents our sin washed clean
- Blue represents baptism
- Green represents growing in faith
- Gold represents our reward in heaven