Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
Which came first: the loving or the being loved?
This is a great reminder that our relationship with God didn’t start with us, it started with God. Zacchaeus was not the one who went looking for Jesus, Jesus came looking for him.
You will need:
- A wide glass, jar or bottle. It must be circular and have plain vertical sides.
- A jug of water
- Card, about A5 size
- Marker pens
Put the jar on the at eye-level in a visible place. You could use something such as a pile of unused hymn books (!) to raise the jar to eye-level. You will need to look at the card through the jar.
We will use symbols to represent the sentences ‘I love God’ and ‘God Loves me’.
heart = love
me = a smiley face
God = cross
Use the card in tall format and write each sentence down one side of the card. Down the left hand side draw a smiley face, below that a heart, and below that a cross. Down the right side, draw a cross, then a heart, then a smiley face.
Place the card behind the jar and read the sentences through the glass.
First, I love God, and then God loves me.
Do I have to earn God’s love by being good enough, by praying enough, by believing enough, by loving him enough?
Pour the water into the jar and watch the magic!
The truth is that God loved me before I ever knew him.
A script for two puppets or people, plus a reader
Andy: Ah brill – I love this story! It’s one of my favourites.
Rod: What story?
Andy: Nasty Zac – the little hairy short dude who no-one liked, then he goes and gives away loads of dosh and then Jesus liked him.
Rod: Errrmmmm … but …
Andy: Yeah, he wanted Jesus to come round for tea and cake and stuff but Jesus was all like ‘Nah I won’t ‘cos you’re Nasty Zac and no-one likes you’.
Rod: Errrmmmm …but …
Andy: But then Zac gave away loads of money and then he was Nice Zac and Jesus was all like ‘OK, I’ll come round now, ‘cos you’ve done something good so I like you now.’
Rod: No, no, no! It wasn’t like that at all. You’ve got it all back to front.
Andy: Back to front? (turning around)
Rod: Yes, You’ve got it the wrong way round.
Andy: What, my shirt? My jumper? (looking at clothes)
Rod: No, you’ve got the story the wrong way round. You’ve got the cart before the horse. You’ve got the custard before the rhubarb. You’ve got the Dec before the Ant. (Substitute food / celebrities for your country)
Andy: How do you mean?
Rod: For a start, Zac wasn’t looking for Jesus, Jesus was looking for Zac!
Andy: Wassee? (‘Was he’ said funny)
Rod: And Zac didn’t invite Jesus round for tea and cakes, that whole thing was Jesus’ idea
Rod: And Jesus liked Zac waaaay before Zac gave back the money he’d taken. You were very wrong on that bit.
Rod: You certainly were. Let’s just listen to how it really happened.
Luke 19:1-10 The Message
Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
Andy: Soooo … Jesus wanted to go and have tea and cakes with him, even when he was still Nasty Zac?
Rod: Even when he was still Nasty Zac.
Andy: And Jesus knew what he was like? I mean, do you think maybe Jesus made a mistake and meant to go for tea with someone a bit nicer?
Rod: No, he didn’t make a mistake. I think Jesus was actually looking for Zacchaeus , that’s how come he knew his name.
Andy: Oh yes! I see what you mean. But why would Jesus go and look for a crook?
Rod: Jesus answered that one himself. He said he had come the find and restore the lost. And Zacchaeus was pretty lost!
Andy: Yeah, he got lost up a tree! But I still don’t get it. Zac was a crook, yep?
Andy: And Jesus liked him, yep?
Andy: Even before he did anything good?
Andy: Soooo … Does Jesus like me, even before I’ve done anything to deserve it?
Rod: Yep! You’ve got it! You’ve finally got it!
Andy: Brill! I’d better be off then. Loads to do!
Rod: Where are you going in such a hurry?
Andy: I need to bake some cakes and make some tea and then find a sycamore tree to climb! (exits)
Rod: (Sigh) Every family tree has the odd nut!
Let us sit with the truth that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’
Luke 19:1-10 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson