Choices That Determine Destiny - Lesson 11

By Dudley Chancey

Choosing Big-Even if you are little

Text: Luke 19:1-10

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student will express that a person can change his way of living
  2. The student will explain that a commitment to God means giving up things

Preparation: (Some items are for extra work if time allows)

  1. Bible for every student (NIV is used for quotes and handouts in this series)
  2. Copies of student handout
  3. Bible concordances or Bible computer program
  4. Chalk or markers for board work


The story of Zacchaeus is about power, position, repentance,being chosen, and salvation. It's not just about a song and aSunday school lesson about climbing trees. In it we see the power of Jesus to change lives. We see that power affect people to the extent that they are willing to give up their reputation and occupation to follow Jesus.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5 minutes)

  1. Prayer time (ask for requests, ask for answered prayers)
  2. Check calendar of events coming up
  3. Connect any students visiting, to individual students and the youth group

Review from Lesson #10: (5 minutes)

  1. Go over the answers to the handouts. Take these up if you are using them for some type of reward (mission trip credit).
  2. Give a one-minute summary of Nehemiah's choices in last week's lesson.

Learning Experiences: (20 minutes)

  1. Remember the two general points that provide a background for our story (see Lesson #1 for a more detailed description).
    1. First, we will be studying a method of making godly choices in our everyday living
      1. The 4 C's. Consider the choice. Compare our attitudes and actions to God. Commit to God's ways. Count on God's protections and provision.
      2. We are studying principles rather than rules.
    2. Second, we will see how much the people we hangout with influence our lives.
  2. The Bible study today comes from the book of Luke. Jesus confronts a little man name Zacchaeus with the Gospel. TheGospel demands choices. Zacchaeus makes some life changing choices when Jesus comes around.
    1. He chooses to see Jesus Zacchaeus the tax collector heard about Jesus coming into the city and wanted to see him. We don't really know why he wanted to see him, but he makes a great effort to get a glimpse of a man that he has probably heard about. He may have even heard that he had a very close friend and disciple namedMatthew (who used to be a tax collector also). Zacchaeus climbs a tree because he is short and the crowds are tall. He is going to see this Jesus. At this point, choosing to see Jesus probably doesn't seem like a big deal to Zacchaeus. Nothing really changes in his life. Little does he know that he is putting himself in a position to actually meet Jesus face-to-face.
    2. He chooses to be with Jesus Jesus is walking by the tree and sees Zacchaeus. Jesus tells him to come down immediately because he is going to stay at his house. Imagine the scene. A little man in a tree. A large crowd all around. Of all the people Jesus could have approached, he picks out Zacchaeus. We don't know if Zacchaeus wondered the same thing or not. What we do know is that immediately Zacchaeus came down and welcomedJesus gladly. He could have stayed in the tree. He could have made excuses as to what shape his house was in. He could have just ignored Jesus. He didn't.
    3. He chooses to change his whole lifestyle We do not know how much time Jesus spent with Zacchaeus that day and maybe even night, but we do know that he finally stands up and proclaims to Jesus that he has chosen to give half of his possessions to the poor, and pay back anyone that he may have cheated, up to four times the amount they paid him originally. This is a radical change for a man of his position (see More Background on taxes and tax collectors). What does he gain? Jesus says he gains salvation that very day.The story of Zacchaeus is very short no pun intended). It is only recorded by Luke. We mostly remember Zacchaeus because he was short. While he was short physically, and a tax collector, Jesus picks him out and basically says by his actions, "Zacchaeus, you are a very important person." In fact, later on in the story, he reminds the people listening that Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham.

Applications: (10 minutes)

The point here is that you not only want them to know about the Bible text, but you want them to take action on it. Would you give up half of everything you have and give it to the poor? Would you take the other half and use it to pay people for any wrongs that you have done them? Zacchaeus became a man of action after being confronted by Jesus. What did you do when you received salvation?

1. In thinking about how short Zacchaeus was, do you think he may have had a "short person" complex? Think about the people that you are around everyday. If Jesus were to come through your town, first of all, would you choose to see him? Second, can you think of someone that is "short" that you could help see Jesus? What else could "short" mean here,besides physical size?

2. Using the concordances, look up several Bible verses on some of today's discussion. For example, students could lookup the following: sycamore tree, Zacchaeus, tax collector, taxes, Jericho, salvation, Son of Man, etc. Ask students to discuss the definitions and descriptions of these different words and names and give some of the Bible contexts in which they are used.

3. Did you go through the "WWJD-What Would Jesus Do" bracelets? Did you really ask yourself "what would Jesus do "when you had to make a choice? Or, did you "JWI-just wear it?" Maybe you wore it because it was cool, or because everyone seemed to be doing it. In the story today, Zacchaeus chooses to be with Jesus. When was the last time you chose to be with Jesus? Was it just at your baptism? Do you choose everyday to be with Jesus? If you aren't wearing your WWJD bracelet anymore, you might very well conclude that you were just going along with the fad (Wonder howJesus feels about being a passing fad?). Do you find yourself having trouble making good choices-choosing to be with Jesus? What exactly do you do, or who do you go to for help when you need to make big choices? Will you choose the res tof your life to be with Jesus?

4. Probably the hardest choice (we materialistic Americans would think) for Zacchaeus to make was giving up his wealth. In fact, he may well have had to also give up his tax collector position (as Matthew had to do) to be with and follow Jesus. What about you? What did you give up when you made the choice to follow Jesus? Are you tempted to go back and pick up some things you gave up to follow Christ? Think of someone that you have wronged. What would it take for you to go to them today and make that wrong a right? Would you give up your money and job to follow Jesus? IsJesus really that radical that he would call on you to give it all up?

Assignment: (2 minutes)

  1. Pass out the handouts to take home. Encourage the students to fill in the answers to the questions about Zacchaeus sometime during the next week and bring these back to class with them. The "fill in the blanks" section is straight out of the text for today's lesson. This assignment will give students time to "be in the Word." The following may help you next week as you go over the thought questions:
    1. You might bring a student up front and do a sketch with him/her. You be Jesus and confront them. You are going to their house today to stay with them. Would they need to run home first and "put some things away" so Jesus wouldn't be embarrassed? Would students stand up and proclaim to their peers that they were giving up half their stuff for the poor? You might even go to one of your students homes and video tape them going through all of their possessions and then hand out a sheet and let students divide these in half to give away. See what each student would put on the give-away side and what they would put on the keep side.
    2. 4C's. This is not a perfect process, but it is better than nothing, and that is what most students are using to make choices. Take advantage of this and share with students how they can walkthrough this process for every important decision in their lives.
    3. Give a prize to anyone who can stand up in front of the group and sing the whole song.
    4. Peers are important to students. Keep that choice before them each week. It is critical as to who they choose for friends. They need to be told daily about the influence they can have on their friends, but to never under-estimate the influence their friends are having on them.
  2. Read Jonah 1-4. The story of Jonah for next week.

Evaluation: (5 minutes)

  1. Ask students to explain the providence of God in Zacchaeus' life.
  2. Ask students to name one principle from the lesson today.
  3. (After class) Have an intern or another adult evaluate your teaching. Occasionally, ask some students to blind review the class. Ask questions like, "What was the main goal of the class tonight?" "What really made an impression on you tonight about the lesson?"

Further Resources:

(You do not have to have these to make these lessons work)

More Background: Publican - a political office created by the Romans to help collect taxes in the provinces. See Matthew 21:32; Matthew 9:11).Taxes — Regular payments to rulers. Early Israel only paid taxes to support the tabernacle and the priests. The Pharisees tested Jesus concerning taxes in Matthew 22:17 (see also Luke 2:1-7; Matthew17:24; Mark 12:13).

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