One of the things I like doing when reading the Bible is considering the crowd. Who are the non-speaking people in this story? Which people from other Bible stories might have also been in this one as part of ‘the crowd’. This is especially interesting when looking at stories about Jesus as the Bible often says ‘large crowds followed him‘ or similar and I wonder which of the people who Jesus healed were part of the crowd.
Here’s an activity to explore the crowd and also to consider where we might be in this crowd.
Collect some lollysticks and glue things on them to make them individual. I’ve used buttons but you could use tissue paper or foil or whatever you have.
Set the sticks out in so everyone can see them and ask them to imagine what kind of person each stick might be. Have fun wondering about this together. You might need to add more questions like, ‘If Mummy was one of these lollysticks, which would she be? Why?’
Now get everyone to make a lollystick which is them, plus two more for Zacchaeus and Jesus (or whoever is in your Bible story).
Begin the story by introducing the crowd. For example:
“Jesus was often followed by a crowd, often a large crowd. People like [this lollystick person] and [this one], others like [this one] and [this one] wanted to hear what He said and see what He did.
“I wonder who was in this crowd. What about the widow Jesus had seen at the temple, or the children who had been blessed by Jesus, or the rich man or the blind beggar Jesus healed, one of the ten men Jesus healed from leprosy? (Look at the stories before this one in the Bible. Although they may not be strictly chronological, they give an idea of some of the people Jesus met and interacted with.) Might any of our lollysticks be any of these people?
Now start reading the Bible text, using the lollysticks to ‘act’ the story (depending on how quickly your glue dries, you may need to use them flat on the table as we did or leave this a while/a day to dry):
19 Jesus was going through Jericho, 2 where a man named Zacchaeus lived. He was in charge of collecting taxes[a] and was very rich. 3-4 Jesus was heading his way, and Zacchaeus wanted to see what he was like. But Zacchaeus was a short man and could not see over the crowd.
Set out the crowd in a line between Jesus and Zacchaeus.
So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree.
Move Zacchaeus along away from the crowd and let Jesus move towards him.
5 When Jesus got there, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down! I want to stay with you today.” 6 Zacchaeus hurried down and gladly welcomed Jesus.
Have Jesus and Zacchaeus ‘walk’ away together to one side.
7 Everyone who saw this started grumbling, “This man Zacchaeus is a sinner! And Jesus is going home to eat with him.”
Wiggle the crowd sticks to pretend they are talking.
8 Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my property to the poor. And I will now pay back four times as much[b] to everyone I have ever cheated.”
Have Zacchaeus and Jesus come back to the crowd, wiggling Zacchaeus to show he is talking.
I wonder what the crowd thought then?
I wonder who was in the crowd? I wonder is Jesus’ friends were there? What about his Mum, Mary? What about the temple leaders>
I wonder where you might be in this story?
An easy, open-ended way to respond to this story would be to give everyone choice of what they would like to make using the lollysticks and buttons and whatever other materials you’ve used.
You’ll find 52 ideas to explore the Bible together in Bible GodVenture52