Play the chicken and eagle game. Choose a kid as the eagle and another kid as the mother hen. The rest of the kids will be the chicks. In the game, the eagle tries to catch one of the chicks so he will be no longer the eagle, and the mother hen tries to protect the chicks from the eagle.
Now I am going to tell you a story about an eagle who thought it was a chicken.
Once a famer found an eagle’s egg in an abandoned nest. He took it home and placed it amongst his chickens under a brooding hen. When the egg hatched the mother hen reared the eagle chick as if it were her own child. And so that eagle chick grew up thinking that he was a chicken. He pecked like a chicken, he scratched like a chicken he even walked like a chicken. But in time, he grew bigger and it became clear to the other birds that this chick was an eagle. They would swoop down and say, “You are an eagle, you and king of the birds. Come and fly with us.” “I’m not an eagle, I’m a chicken,” he’d tell them. “Go away!”
But that young eagle chick continued to grow. One day an owl swooped down. “Get on my back” he said, “I’ve got something to show you.” The young eagle hopped onto the owl’s back and the owl flew high into the sky. “Put me down. Put me down. I don’t like it up here,” the young eagle squawked. “You’ll be fine,” said the owl. “Trust me.” Soaring higher and higher, the owl finally flipped himself over and the eagle fell, plummeting fast towards the ground. “Why?” screeched the eagle. “I’m going to die.” “Just open your wings,” called the owl. The eagle opened his wings and was caught by the wind. Soon he was soaring above the farm and the chickens bellow. “You’re right,” cried the eagle. “I am an eagle. I can fly!” The eagle always thought it was a chicken until one day, he found that he could fly, he changed his mind and believed that he was an eagle … and lived as one.
2. LESSON: Zaccheaus Encounters Jesus (Luke 19)
Today, we learn about a man named Zaccheaus who changed his mind about himself after he met Jesus.
Tell the story based on Luke 19:1-9. You can act out the story with puppets or props: signboard with “Jericho”, sturdy chair, 2 small branches with leaves. Get volunteers for 5 roles: Jesus, Zaccheaus, tree (need a child, preferably tall to stand next to the chair, holding 2 branches and 2 people). The teacher or someone who can read well can narrate while the children act out the play.
Jesus was going through the city of Jericho. (“Jesus” walks past the sign and the “tree”, followed by 2 people. They stop after the “tree”.) In Jericho, there was a man named Zacchaeus. (“Zaccheaus” steps out) He was a chief tax collector. In those days, people hated tax collectors. Tax collectors collected high taxes and made life difficult for the people, especially the poor.Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was. (“Zacchaeus” tip-toes and jumps to see Jesus, but the 2 people block him) But there were many others who wanted to see Jesus and they were blocking, Zacchaeus who was too short to see Jesus. So he ran to a place where he knew Jesus would come. Then he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see him. (“Zacchaeus” climbs up on the chair to see “Jesus” ).When Jesus came to where Zacchaeus was, he looked up and saw him in the tree. Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, come down now. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus hurried and came down. (“Zacchaeus” comes down from the chair) He was happy that Jesus was coming to his house.But when the people saw this, they began to complain, “Look at the kind of man Jesus is staying with. Zacchaeus is a sinner!” Zacchaeus said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions (the things I own) to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zacchaeus was not only unpopular, but hated by the people. This is shown by the people’s disapproval of Jesus going to his house and they also called him a “sinner.”
Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was. There were such a big crowd and he was up on a tree but Jesus saw his need. Despite of the people’s disapproval, Jesus shows him love and compassion by going to his house. Zacchaeus was more important to Jesus than popularity.
Zacchaeus changes his mind about himself after experiencing Jesus’ love and acceptance of him. He did bad things in the past (he collected high taxes, made people’s lives difficult and cheated people). To the people, he was a cheat, a tax collector and a sinner. But we can see that Zacchaeus had changed when he told everyone he would give half the things he owned to the poor and pay back anyone he cheated 4 times the amount. Jesus told the people that Zacchaeus is also a son of Abraham.
What can we learn from Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus?
Lesson 1: Jesus comes to our house
Although Jesus was God, he came to earth as a human being. He saw our need to be saved and he came to save us. Even though we may be not important in other peoples’ eyes, even though we are sinners, like Zacchaeus, we are important to Jesus.
When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, the Holy Spirit moves into us and lives within us. We become his house.
Lesson 2: When we encounter Jesus, He changes (renews) our minds about ourselves
Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Zacchaeus is a son (descendant) of Abraham. Abraham had a covenant with God and his descendants were included in the covenant. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we become God’s children. Like the son below who looks like his father (because he has his DNA), we are like God because we are his children (and we have his DNA).
We may not be a cheat like Zacchaeus was, but there may be other areas of our life that we need to change our mind. Some movies, TV shows and friendsmay tell you that saying foul words, being disobedient to parents and teachers, disturbing your friends when the teacher is teaching is “cool” but God’s word teaches us the contrary/opposite. In fact, we will actually feel uncomfortabledoing those things because deep, down inside, we are not like that. God hasmade us a new creation, and we are the most comfortable, most happy and most at peace when we are like Jesus. What’s really cool is having the Holy Spirit lead us into areas where we can have the best possible life on earth, that is abundant life.