Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Humble Hero (Desire of Ages)
Chapter 61 - The Little Man Who Became Important
Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus. But it takes more than merely seeing Jesus to be transformed. It was by being in Jesus’ presence that Zacchaeus was changed.
In the story of Zacchaeus we see a mini picture of the great controversy between good and evil. Like Lucifer at the time of his fall in heaven, Zacchaeus is seeking to live a powerful life through deceit, selfishness, and power. Before Zacchaeus makes the choice to live a good life, he is greedy and focused on getting rich and making himself greater. The opposite of greed is generosity, and by the end of his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus shifts his focus from his bulging money bags to the good he could do for others. Any time we see Lucifer, also known as Satan, in the Bible, we see his characteristics are self-centered, which could also describe the lifestyle of Zacchaeus. Jesus models the selfless life that freely gives to others, does not seek earthly riches, and pursues love and justice above all. The testimony of Zacchaeus can help us see the transformation and the characteristics that Jesus wants to see in our lives too.
TRUTH OR OPINION
Supplies Needed: 20 note cards, pens
Divide the group into two teams. Give each team 10 note cards and pens. Ask each team to write down 5 phrases or words that illustrate something that is a truth, and 5 phrases or words that describe something that is an opinion. Bring the teams back together and have each team take turns showing a card, while the other team guesses if the phrase or word is a truth or an opinion.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read each Bible passage, then discuss the questions. If you are still worshiping from home, consider discussing one or more of the questions on social media, in a Zoom meeting, or in a group chat with friends.
An Angel with an Opinion
Read Isaiah 14:12-14.
12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens;I will raise my throne above the stars of God;I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
A Serpent With an Opinion
Read Genesis 3:1-5.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
An Adversary With an Opinion
Read Job 1:1-12.
1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
4 His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Jesus Speaks Truth
Read Matthew 22:34-40.
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Zacchaeus was an unhappy, lonely person. He probably woke up every morning and went to bed each night with a tremendous burden of guilt. Jesus changed all the negative aspects of his life, and Zacchaeus became convicted about what he could do to make things right in his life. Jesus wants to see transformation in our lives, too. We should not listen to the opinions of Satan, but focus on the truth Jesus shares with us in the Bible.
Consider applying what you learned in this week’s lesson by doing one or all of these activities:
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
This Sabbath is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. There are doubtless different perspectives right within your church about what has transpired over these past 20 years since that infamous day.
There are no doubt also different perspectives about this week’s Scripture passage—Luke 19:1-10. For some, it’s nothing more than history—the story of Zacchaeus. It’s only 10 verses long (out of more than 31,000 verses in the whole Bible). And yet most teens in your Sabbath School probably know something about the story, even if it’s just the children’s song, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man . . . .”
Add a little more context to the story before the youth read and respond to it. Perhaps this will move it from ancient history and bring it to life right now. There’s more to the story than its being about a “vertically challenged” loner.
Consider the stories that precede Luke 19, such as the story of the rich, young ruler (Luke 18:18-30) who wanted eternal life but left sorrowful when Jesus told him to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him. That story includes the shocking statement that it is hard for those who are blessed (rich people) to get into the kingdom of God.
And there’s the story of the blind beggar (Luke 18:35-43) whom Jesus encountered as He entered Jericho, before he saw “Zack” in the tree. The blind beggar made such a commotion that it stopped the entourage and resulted in a miraculous healing, and then praise to God, and even more people following Jesus.
What about Zacchaeus the tax collector? Tax collectors were Jews who actually paid the Romans for the job to tax their fellow Jews. This tax paid for the Roman occupation of their land. Of course, no Jew wanted to pay this tax. But the tax collector could get Roman soldiers to enforce the payment, which made tax collectors even more despised. The way tax collectors got paid was to add a higher price of their choice to the tax they made the Jews pay. They could keep the difference. This meant the Jews paid for the Romans AND for their traitor countrymen who got rich off them. Zacchaeus wasn’t just a tax collector; he was the chief tax collector for that area—the boss. No wonder he was “very rich” (Luke 19:2).
Read (or listen to) the short chapter in The Desire of Ages—chapter 61 (only five pages long—pages 552-556). You’ll find that Zacchaeus earlier had heard the preaching of John the Baptist (Luke 3:8-14) and had already been responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart and mind (and actions).
If you want a Jewish background on making restitution for cheating or stealing, read Exodus 22:1-4. Consider Numbers 5:7 and Leviticus 6:5. Note David’s response to Nathan’s story about a rich man who stole a lamb from a poor man (2 Samuel 12:6).
It’s easy to hate Zacchaeus. It’s kind to appreciate what Jesus did for Zacchaeus (as long as you haven’t been cheated by someone like rich Zacchaeus). The personal application can be overwhelming if you take it to heart. Let’s begin by asking the Holy Spirit to open us to what He wants us to see and hear in the first 10 verses of Luke 19—the story of Zacchaeus when he came face-to-face with Jesus.
A Different Perspective
When have you climbed a tree? Why did you do it?
Read Luke 19:1-10.
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 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.”
9 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.”
1. Who was Zacchaeus?
2. What prevented Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus?
3. Why did Jesus invite Himself to the house of Zacchaeus?
4. Who heard the testimony and promise Zacchaeus made?
5. What did the testimony of Zacchaeus mean?
6. Based on the story of Zacchaeus, how does a person receive salvation?
8. The short guy, Zacchaeus, found a way to see Jesus. What will you do to get a better view of Jesus?
From a distance, this story illustrates the amazing forgiveness Jesus offers and the relationship He wants to have with each one of us. This includes the most despicable people, including those who have wronged you.
While it would be easier to remember this as a nice story from history, applying it to your own life brings the miracle of Jesus into your life right now. Consider some of the application ideas below to put this Gospel story into action this week.
Being short might be a challenge, but neglecting your spiritual life is worse! Try growing spiritually this week with Jesus, with impetus from the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.
Understanding & Relating to Latino/a Youth
By Jennifer Guerra Aldana & Marcos Canales
You know how important it is to engage young people in your church. But how? Even when we bring our best intentions to these conversations, the dialogue somehow flops.
This comprehensive 43-page guide is the perfect handbook for any adult looking for a starting point in conversations with today’s Latina/o youth. The handbook is translated in English and Spanish. It includes an overview of the reality Latina/o youth face, fundamental principles of conversation, plus 30+ questions and ideas for next steps.
Help eliminate hunger. Purchase ready to eat and easy to open food items and assemble them in resealable plastic bags. Donate to shelters or use for street ministry.
Cost: Less than $10.00
Re-use plastic bags for a great cause. Save plastic bags and convert them into a sleeping mat for the homeless.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help small children learn at home. This easy sew bean bag craft can help children learn alphabets, numbers, or shapes.
Cost: Less than $5.00