Good Shepherd

Overview:  Last week, we read Luke 4:16-30 as a way to understand Jesus’ own mission.  Today, we turn to an image that Jesus offered us.  Together, these two texts will frame our study of Jesus’ ministry in the weeks ahead.

Read the word:   John 10:11-18

Classes with very young children might want to read The Little Shepherd, which will be available near the children’s Bibles.

I am  available to do the Godly Play Parable of the Good Shepherd with one of the classes if that piques your interest.


(1.)  Children will describe the relationship between a shepherd and sheep.

(2.)  Children will see (and perhaps create) an image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

(1.)  Re-enact the scene with legos, playmobil people, wooden figurines, costumes from Pageant Photos…or something else that strikes your fancy.  Let me know if I can provide you with any particular materials.
(2.)  Images:  Take time to reflect on various images springing from the text.  What do the images share in common?  How do the artists portray the text differently?    Offer children the opportunity to create their own image, or to draw or paint on an existing image like this one.
Images I found include ancient images and etchings, icons, and other depictions of the text.
Here are several more images from Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s “Art in the Christian Tradition”
(3.)  Make a Good Shepherd cross (older children):  We have several unfinished wooden crosses.  Invite small groups of students to work together to draw and/or paint an image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, onto each cross.  (You may want to offer examples.)  You could also use modeling clay to make crosses, etching an image of the Good Shepherd into the clay.
(4.)  Shepherd / Sheep games:  
        – Lost sheep game for young children
       –  Sheep/Shepherd game
      –  Game:  The Sheep, The Shepherd, and The Wolf (taken from this website, where there are lots of  ideas to engage very young children with this text)
Tell the children that a shepherd knows his sheep by name.  Every sheep has a name, just like each child does.  When the shepherd calls the sheep, “Martha, Gracie, Fleece,” the sheep come running.  Sheep know and love their shepherd’s voice.  They will not run to a stranger.  In fact, they will run away from a stranger.
Draw a parallel by saying that Jesus knows each of us by name also.  He loves us.
Appoint one child to be the wolf and one to be the shepherd.  The rest of the children will be sheep.  Have the sheep stand at one end of the playing area (a larger space is best), the shepherd at the opposite end, and the wolf in the middle.  Tell the students that the shepherd will call each of them by name.  Once they hear their name, they are to try to reach the shepherd, without getting tagged by the wolf.  If they get tagged, they need to take a sheep nap and sit down.  If they don’t get tagged, they are safe with the shepherd.
(5.)  Praying together – 
     (a.)  Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color, offers this prayer from John 10.
     (b.)   Write out the collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (see below), and attach it a piece of sheep artwork.
“O God, whose Song Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:  Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen”

 Conclude in prayer


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