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A Little Man With a Big Heart

Luke 19:1-10; The Desire of Ages, pp. 552-556


The Message

I show others Jesus’ love when I put wrongs right.

Memory Verse

“Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor” (Luke 19:8).

Have you ever been to a parade or ball game and not been able to see very well? Maybe your father carried you on his shoulders. If so, you will understand how Zacchaeus felt when he got stuck at the back of a crowd.


Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. He had one of the biggest and best houses in town. He was a very rich man. But no one liked him, because everyone believed that he cheated people and kept their money. Everyone knew about it, but no one could do anything. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector for the Romans. The Romans didn’t care what he did as long he gave them the right tax money. So Zacchaeus probably told people that their taxes had gone up. He collected more than he should, and he kept the extra money for himself.

One day Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to Jericho. He had heard a lot about Jesus. He had heard how Jesus had healed the sick, the lame, and the blind. And some said that He had raised someone from the dead. All these things made Jesus special—and made Zacchaeus want to meet Him.

Zacchaeus had heard about the tax collector Levi Matthew. Matthew had left everything to become one of Jesus’ closest followers. People talked about it everywhere. Zacchaeus wondered, Maybe Jesus has something to say to me.

Yes, it was the talk of the town. Jesus was really coming to Jericho. Zacchaeus decided to try to catch a glimpse of the Master. He left his tax station and went out into the street.

The street was so crowded, and the crowds were getting thicker. It was hopeless. Zacchaeus tried jumping up to see over their heads, but that was useless. He was so short, and no one would let him through. But he was determined. He would not give up. He must see Jesus.

Zacchaeus looked up and down the street. He saw a big tree. Climbing trees was not the sort of thing grown men did. But there was no other way he could see Jesus. So up he climbed. He sat on a big branch and looked down the road. Jesus was coming his way.

When Jesus reached the tree, He stopped and looked up. He saw Zacchaeus and smiled. Everyone in the crowd stopped too. They looked up and saw Zacchaeus.

“Zacchaeus, come down. I am going to your house today,” Jesus said so everyone could hear.

Zacchaeus could hardly believe his ears. Jesus going to his house? He climbed down the tree and led the way. The crowd moved aside. But people began to mutter. “How can Jesus be the guest of a sinner?” they wondered out loud.

Zacchaeus said: “Lord! I will give half of everything I own to the poor. If I have cheated anyone, I will give them back four times as much.”

Jesus looked at Zacchaeus. Then He looked at the people who were muttering and criticizing Him. Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house. This is the reason the Son of Man came—to seek and save the lost.”

Before Zacchaeus saw Jesus, he had begun to show that he was sorry for cheating people. Now he confessed this before the crowd. He showed that loving Jesus helped him to make things right. Jesus can help you make things right too.