Scripture:  Luke 19:1-10


Memory Verse:     “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV)




Objectives:     This workshop will focus on helping children understand sin, repentance and forgiveness:  we all make mistakes and sin; after we sin, if we love God, we will be sorry and will want to make up for what we have done; and God forgives us.  God loves us even though we are sinners and forgives us because of that love.  



Welcome and Introductions:

  1. Greet the children and introduce yourself. Wear your nametag.
  2. Tell the children that today they will use the puppets to learn about sin, being sorry about sinning and being forgiven for sinning.


Bible Story:


Plan to spend about 10 minutes on the Bible story before going to the puppets.  For the first two weeks of the lesson, you will need to read the story to the class.  After that you may still read the story or jump directly to the discussion.  The Faith Quest curriculum is based on the CEV Bible, so that version is included here. You can share some basic Bible facts before reading the story:  the story comes from the Bible, the Bible is God’s Word,  and the story is from the book of the Bible called Luke. Luke is one of the Gospels, which is the Good News about Jesus Christ, our savior. 


Luke 19:1-10   Jesus was going through Jericho, where a man named Zacchaeus lived.  He was in charge of collecting taxes and was very rich.  Jesus was heading his way, and Zacchaeus wanted to see what he was like.  But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree.  When Jesus got there, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down!  I want to stay with you today.”  Zacchaeus hurried down and gladly welcomed Jesus.  Everyone who saw this started grumbling, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner!  And Jesus is going home to eat with him.”  Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my property to the poor.  And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.”  Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham.  The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” (CEV)



·        Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to see Jesus.  Why do you think he went to so much trouble?  (Encourage controlled discussion or guessing.) Maybe God put an urge in Zacchaeus’ heart to go see Jesus.  Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree.  The sycamore trees of this area were large, maybe 30 or 40 feet tall.  They had a short trunk and spreading branches, so it would have been a good climbing tree.  Just imagine how that looked! 

·        Jesus stopped under the tree and called up to Zacchaeus by name.  How do you think Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ name and that he was up in the tree?  God knows everything about everybody. 

·        Zacchaeus gladly welcomed Jesus to his home, so we know that Zacchaeus was happy to get to know Jesus.  Would you be happy if Jesus found you and asked to come to your house?  The crowd is not happy about Jesus eating with Zacchaeus.  Why is this?  The crowd says that Zacchaeus is a sinner.  Does that make him any different from anyone else?  No, we are all sinners (all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23). 

·        What does Zacchaeus do to make up for the bad things (or sins) that he has done?  Gives half his property to the poor, pays back four times what he has cheated people.  From this we know that Zacchaeus had cheated people when he collected taxes from them.  The crowd probably didn’t like Zacchaeus because he was dishonest.  But he was sorry and decided to pay back much more than he had taken. 

·        Does anyone know what this is called when you do something to make up for sins?  Repentance.   Repentance is more than just being sorry for what you have done.  It also means you’ll try to change your behavior and you will do something to make up for whatever bad thing you have done.  

·        What does Jesus give Zacchaeus for welcoming him into his life and for being sorry and repentant about his sins?  He says that Zacchaeus and his family have been saved, which means they will go to heaven when they die. 

·        What happened to Zacchaeus’ sins?  Jesus forgave them.  What else did Jesus say that is good news for everyone?  The Son of Man (Jesus) came to look for and save people who are lost. 

·        Who was the lost man in this story?  Zacchaeus.  Did Jesus look for him?  Yes, he looked up in the tree.  Did Jesus save him?  Yes, by letting Zacchaeus get to know him and become sorry for the bad things he had done and then giving him a chance to make up for the bad things he had done, Jesus did save Zacchaeus.  Have you let Jesus look for you?    If anyone shares an answer, great, but you might want to just move on.


(Unlikely to happen, but if anyone asks what the phrase “son of Abraham” means, tell them that Zacchaeus was a Jew, so he was a descendant of Abraham, and that descendants in the Bible are often called sons of ____, even after many generations.  Because he welcomed Jesus into his life and repented of his sins, Zacchaeus was also a son or child of Abraham by his faith, which is something that each of us can be, even if we are not Jewish by birth.) 




Note:  There are 4 skits.  Skits 1-3 have 4 characters; Skit 4 has 5.  As soon as your class arrives you need to figure out a combination of skits that allows each child to have a part without letting someone go twice—THINK QUICK! You can also use a shepherd or yourself to cover a part—I’d advise this, as it is hard to let only one or two children go twice. 


Questions following the skit reinforce the concepts we are teaching about God, forgiveness and repentance.


  1. Divide the class into groups for each skit.  Let them choose a puppet.  The puppets don’t really have to match the parts they play.  Let the children practice with the puppets for a few minutes—talking, not talking, turning to face another puppet, etc.   Most children, except visitors and newcomers, have used these puppets before. 
  2. You have several options about who will read the parts.  You may pre-record the entire skit on cassette tape before Sunday (this always works well for me when I am a PP workshop leader).  You can use an adult (a shepherd or workshop leader) to read all puppet parts while children act out with the puppets.  You may also allow each child to read and act out his/her own puppet part (this works well with 3rd grade and up).  
  3. Give out scripts to each group.   
  4. Allow the groups 5 minutes or so to practice their script.  Grades 1&2: The shepherd and workshop leader should help with the scripts, perhaps even “speaking” the voices while the children act them out. Explain any words they don’t understand.  You may want to do this for the older grades as well to keep the pace moving and to allow the children to focus on what is being said and not the mechanics of reading.
  5. When performing the skits, you may use the pre-recorded version.
  6. Perform each skit.  After each skit, ask the performers to sit down.  Ask questions of all the children about what happened in the play. Some possible discussion questions follow.


 Skit 1:  Hannah disobeyed her parents’ clean-up rule and thought of a way to make it up to her mother.  Can you share any time that you made up for something bad or wrong that you had done?  Do you think Hannah and her mother love each other?  How do you know?  Do you ever feel bad inside about something you’ve done?  Do you know that the LORD’s spirit can help you know when you’ve done something bad by making you feel that way?


Skit 2:  What were some of the bad things that happened in the skit?  Megan was a little too rough with the toy; Ethan was not very kind about it.  Should they be forgiven?  What do you think someone should do before he/she is forgiven?  Be truly sorry and try to make it better (repent).  Have you ever heard someone say he/she is sorry but you didn’t believe it?  Do you think that person was repentant—would they try not to do that again or make up for what they did?  If someone does change his/her behavior and does things to make up, do you believe that someone was truly sorry?  Yes.  That’s what God expects of us—being truly sorry for what we’ve done.


Skit 3:  What did you think about this bully?  You may know someone like that (don’t name anyone, please).  Think about whether you would expect that bully to want to see a Christmas play?  Could you be wrong about the bully like the kids in the skit were? 


Skit 4:  Do you like to imagine you were there when a Bible story took place?   Did the crowd have a right to think Zacchaeus wasn’t nice?  Sure—he had obviously cheated them or people they knew.  Were you surprised Jesus would care about Zacchaeus?  Why do you think he did?  Cares about all of us—wants to save the lost.  Does this story make you feel better about how Jesus must care for you?   


  1. If you have to repeat a skit to give everyone a turn, you may hold the discussion until after the second time you have repeated that skit.



Ask whether there are any questions. 



Reflection Time:

  1. Ask the shepherds to pass out the journal sheets and pencils/markers.  Tell the younger children to think of something they are sorry for (ex. disobeyed a parent, said unkind things to someone).  Then draw a picture of it.  Tell the older children to write two things that they are sorry for and how they could make up for what they did. 



Prayer:  Close with a simple prayer about God, how he knows each one of us, knows that we are sinners and still sent Jesus down to save us from our sins.  Thank God for Jesus.


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help clean up as they wait for their parents to arrive.  Put pillows behind stage area. Put away boom box, workshop bin, etc


Teacher preparation in advance:


1.      Pray:  Ask God to give you the talents, words, assurance and patience you need to teach His children this lesson. 

2.      Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.

3.      Make copies of each script page.  Cut the scripts into pieces so that each player can have a copy.  You can also post two copies of the script at each end of the stage so puppeteers can refer to it.

4.      Prepare a closing prayer.

5.      Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located. Bring a CD or taped music for background music while you are gathering, along with meditative music for reflection time.

6.      If you choose to pre-record the scripts, borrow the boom box from the church and using a scratch tape-record the scripts.  Family members and their friends can have a lot of fun playing the different parts.



1. Copies of the script.



Notes supplied for curriculum writers' Bible study in November 2002.

The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan.






Dylan:  “Where have you been all morning?  It’s Saturday, and you missed our hide-and-seek game.”


Hannah:  “I had to clean up my room.”


Justin: “I thought your parents always make you clean your room during the week.”


Alexis:  “So why didn’t you clean it up this week?”


Hannah:  “I kept putting it off.  My mom said that she likes to vacuum on Saturday morning so that she can enjoy the rest of the day, and when my room isn’t cleaned up, she can’t vacuum the whole house at one time. ” 


Dylan: “So did you get a beating?” 


Justin: “Or loose all your TV time for a year?”


Hannah:  “Nothing like that.  My mom looked so sad because she had planned to finish her vacuuming and then go on a walk.  I was sorry that I hadn’t finished my room on time.  I told my mom I would clean my room and vacuum it and the other bedrooms, so she actually got to leave earlier for her walk.  She was so happy that I was sorry and wanted to make up for what I had done.  She had a big smile on her face and hugged me.  I said I would always clean my room on time in the future.”


Justin:  “I think you got off easy.”


Dylan:  “I think Hannah’s mom really loves her—and she’s really smart.  Now everyone is happy—if her mom had just beat her or punished her, the floor wouldn’t have gotten vacuumed and everyone would just be in a bad mood.”


Alexis:  “I think the whole thing worked out great—Hannah’s sorry, she’s not going to do it again, her mom forgave her, and everyone is happy. ”





Olivia:  “What was that snapping sound?”


Megan:  “Oh, this mousetrap game part just broke.  It just snapped when I was trying to fit it together.  I’m really sorry.”


Ethan: “I can’t believe you broke that part.  Now the game is no good.”


(Megan starts to cry.)


Olivia:  “Don’t cry Megan.  It’s not like you meant to break it.  Maybe my Dad can fix it.  Dad…can you look at this part?”


Olivia’s Dad:  “What happened?  Oh, the part is broken.  You know I think this can be glued.  If not, sometimes these game companies let you order a new part.  We can try glue first, then call the company if it doesn’t work.”


Megan:  “I can help you glue it.  And maybe I can pay for the part if the glue doesn’t work.  And Olivia, I’m really sorry.  I knew I shouldn’t have pushed so hard, so it really was my fault.”


Ethan: “And Megan, I’m sorry I made you cry.”


Olivia:  “I forgive you, Megan, because I can tell how sorry you are.”


Megan:  “And Ethan I forgive you, because I know how good it feels to be forgiven when you’ve done something wrong.” 





Kid 1:  “I can’t see the Nativity play.  Don’t get right in front of me.”


Kid 2:  (pushing) “But I want to see it too.  You want to fight with me?”


Kid 3:  (quietly) “Don’t get in a fight with him.  He’s really strong.”


Kid 1:  “Why would YOU want to see the play?  You are about the meanest kid in the whole school.  I wouldn’t think you’d care at all about Jesus’ birthday.”


Kid 2: “I don’t know much about Jesus, and I’m curious.” 


Kid 3:  “You don’t know about Jesus?  Don’t your parents take you to church?”


Kid 2:  “No.”


Adult: “Did I hear you say you want to learn about Jesus?  You can stand in front of me if you want to see the play.  I can still see over you.”  


(After the play…)


Kid 2: “I liked that play very much.  Thanks for letting me in front of you.”


Kid 1:  “I can’t believe he liked the play.”


Kid 3:  “Yeah, wouldn’t you rather be pushing someone around or calling them a name?”


Adult:  “Kids, that is enough, your words are as bad as a push.  And you don’t always know what other people have in their hearts.  Only God knows.”


Kid 2:  “I’m sorry if I’ve ever done anything wrong to you guys.”


Kid 3:  “Wow, that’s a change.  Do you really mean it?”


Adult:  “God knows when you’re sorry, and he forgives you for the things you’ve done.  Try hard not to do those things again, ok?”


Kid 2:  “I’ll try.”





Person 1:  “What’s Zacchaeus doing here?”


Person 2:  “You think he’ll try to charge us to see Jesus?  He’ll do anything to make money.”


Person 3:  “Look, he’s climbing that tree.  I can’t believe he’d work so hard to see Jesus.”


Person 1:  “Look, that must be Jesus coming.  He’s stopping under that tree Zacchaeus climbed.  I think he’s going to tell him a thing or two, finally.” 


Person 2:  “Let’s go hear.  This ought to be good.”


Jesus:   “Zacchaeus, hurry down!  I want to stay with you today.”   


Person 3:  “I can’t believe it.  He’s going eat with that bad man—that sinner.”


Person 1:  “I can’t either believe it either.  Let’s follow them to Zacchaeus’ house.”


(Later, outside Zacchaeus’ house)


Zacchaeus:  “I will give half of my property to the poor.  And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated.” 


Jesus: Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham.  The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”


Person 2:  “Did you hear what Zacchaeus just said he’d do—in front of all these people?  He must be truly sorry and going to be honest from now on.”


Person 3: “How did Jesus know Zacchaeus was a good guy underneath it all?”


Person 1:  “I guess that’s why so many people love Jesus--he is amazing.”


Person 2:  “If Jesus knows about Zacchaeus, he knows how I truly feel, too.”


Person 3:  “I’m sorry for the way I felt about Zacchaeus at first.  I’m glad Jesus didn’t give up on Zacchaeus the way I did because now we have a ‘new’ Zacchaeus who is truly nice.”