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November 2013


I have a hazy memory of an event that happened when I was a small boy in short pants running around the side streets of the Donegall Pass in south Belfast.


One day my chum invited me to go with him to a meeting - what we might call today a Children's Outreach Missionary Meeting. With Mum's approval off I went into strange territory. (Even at that age I was died in the wool Church of Ireland!) It was probably in Apsley Street Gospel Hall.


We heard the story of the encounter Zacchaeus had with Jesus, from St Luke's Gospel, 19: 1-10, which was the reading for last Sunday. (I have reproduced this passage below). It is a well know Bible story.


We were then asked to draw a picture to illustrate the story, and, as I had been learning to draw trees at school, I drew my picture. I do not have this masterpiece anymore so I attempt to reproduce it using a digital drawing app. This is my attempt.

Needless to say I won first prize. I realised many years later that that was only because I was the new boy on the block and they wanted me to come back! (Note drawing using a mouse takes a lot of practice!)


It is uncanny the way in which Jesus discerned what it was that Zacchaeus really needed - to be loved and not hated in the way that all tax collectors were. He called Zacchaeus down from the tree and invited himself to dinner at Zac's house. The little man was overjoyed. He promised to make retribution to all who felt cheated my his tax demands on them, and indeed to give away a large portion of his accumulated wealth.


There is a well known children's song about Zacchaeus. This version is by Christopher Idle. Read especially the last stanza.


1. Zacchaeus was a very little man

and a very little man was he.

He climbed up into a sycamore tree

for the Saviour he wanted to see.

And when Jesus passed that way

he looked into the tree

[spoken] and said ' Now Zacchaeus, you come down,

for I'm coming to your house for tea.'


2. Zacchaeus went a very little way

and a very little way went he;

and when he welcomed Jesus in,

some changes they would see.

'I'll split my goods in half', he said;

'Give one half to the poor;

[spoken] And I'll pay back what I've cheated anyone-

and I'll multiply it all by four!"


3.Zacchaeus was a very little man

and a son of Abraham;

and Jesus who can come to us

is called the Son of Man.

He came to look for what was lost

to find and save them too;

and what he did for a very little man

he can do for me and you.


Christopher Idle 
Words 2005 The Jubilate Group (admin. Hope Publishing Company)



6th November 2013

Luke 19:1-10

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Zacchaeus the tax collector

19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’


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