Updated: Oct 24
Text and Tune: Anonymous
Zacchaeus was a wee little man And a wee little man was he He climbed up in a sycamore tree For the Lord he wanted to see And when the Savior passed him by He looked up in the tree And said, 'Zacchaeus, you come down! For I'm going to your house today! For I'm going to your house today!'
There is hardly anything as much fun as teaching a little one this song. Everything about it works. First of all, the story is about someone they can easily identify with—a wee little man—as they look up at some adult being perfectly silly making the gestures that go with the song. Then they get into the song and start singing it with you--pure joy. It is fun to sing and do the actions, and fun to be able to teach the Gospel so charmingly. The words become a way to understand Jesus and life.
Words given to the very young become their way to express themselves in every way. I remember when my nephew, whose mother was terrified of mice, watched her climb onto the sofa screaming while a mouse fled by. When I asked him about it—he was about three—he said, “Mommy saw the mouse and climbed onto the sofa and she screamed and screamed.” I asked, where did the mouse go? “He went over there and climbed up in a sycamore tree.”
This is one of the reasons we need to lay down sentences and sound tracks in the minds of our children: they need words to describe things they see from the very first. Using the words of gospel songs and Bible verses to describe other things they see, in a way, evangelizes life.
The story of Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus is a wonderful story, and told with the special narrative skill of Luke. Here we see Jesus passing through a town, Jericho. We meet a man, not just any man, but a tax collector of all things, reviled by the people for his siding with Rome against them. The noise and appearance of the crowd attract Zaccheus’ attention and he wants to see what it is about. A little man, he climbs into a tree to see it. Jesus sees him, and announces that he wants to go to his house that day. There he is received joyfully by a changed man. Zaccheus, a rich man, will give half of his wealth to the poor, and repay any he has defrauded four times what he took.
Here Jesus is doing the impossible, which is always possible with God, as the angel told Mary: saving a rich man. Joy simply gushes out of the house into our hearts. This is what happens when the Lord makes his home in our hearts. Everything is changed. The king is here. He wants to dwell with us forever. Pure joy!
Last Sunday our congregation hosted Her Majesty, Queen Sonja, the Queen of Norway. A little girl gave her red roses as she stepped out of the car, we all stood as she entered the church, filled to capacity. We were all wearing our Sunday best, we heard the best music and sang our favorite hymns for her. We heard Jesus’ invitation in the sermon, we celebrated with a fine meal and festivity. It was a day of rejoicing. It was a parable of Christian joy, a royal visit, deeply imbued with the joy we have been given by our Lord Jesus, the King of the universe, our Savior.
JESUS AND ZACCHAEUS “Zacchaeus was a wee little man,” we chant To the small ones around us. I love to see their eyes Widen to see the gestures of an old great aunt Singing a song about a man their size. They get it right. Zacchaeus, like a boy, Runs to climb a tree to see the Lord. “Zacchaeus, come down; I’m going to your house!”
There’s joy, good food, music, all he can afford. The party overflows; Zacchaeus proves A rich man can believe and make amends. Christ has reordered all the tax man’s loves, Restored him as Abraham’s son, and made a friend. The eye of the needle widens; the gates of heaven Open up, showing him all that he’s been given. Luke 19:1–10; Exodus 22:1–6; Leviticus 6:1–7
from Jesus the Harmony by Gracia Grindal
Nobody has any idea where this song comes from. Like most popular songs by Anonymous, it is well wrought and to the point. Teach it to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, everyone you meet.
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For those thinking of Christmas gifts, you might consider the book Jesus the Harmony. It has a poem for every day of the year and Bible references for each poem that put Jesus in what has been called "the red thread of salvation." Many have been using it for daily devotions; others in group Bible studies.