These stories are intended to be a resource to you as you plan for Jesus our Teacher: The Good Shepherd. As mentioned in that lesson, you may want to print one of these selections for your students to paste in their journals. Younger children can decorate around the selection and hear the story in your own words. Older children may enjoy reflecting together on the selection before reflecting through writing or art in their Lenten journals. Note: If you print the poems, you may want to reformat in Word, substituting the line break indicators (|) for actual line breaks.
The Shepherd is the Gate
Many years ago I was traveling by donkey from Nishapur, the city of the poet Omar Khayyam, in eastern Iran to Sebsevar, a three days journey to the West. We stopped in a tiny village of mud huts for the night, and when we arose the next morning the dry duty land was covered with a mantle of beautiful white snow.
As the donkey driver stated firmly that it was impossible for his animals to move while the snow was so deep, there was nothing to do but wait till the snow melted a bit. So all that day we remained in the village.
In the afternoon I set out to see the sights about the village. Not far away I came to a mound of earth piled up in a large circle, like a crude rampart, and on top of the mound all around the circle was a heap of dry thorns. As I stood wondering what this might be one of the villagers approached me, “Salaam” I said, “please tell me what this enclosure is for.”
“Oh, that is for the sheep,” he replied. “They are brought in here for the night for safety.”
“Good,” I said, “but why have the dry thorns been piled on top of the wall?”
“That,” he replied, “is a protection against wolves. If a wolf tries to break in and attack the sheep, he will knock against the thorns, and they will make a noise, and the shepherd will wake up, and drive off the wolf.”
“That is fine,” I said, “but why does the wolf try to climb over the wall? Here is the entrance to the enclosure; it is open. There is no door to keep out the world; he could easily enter here.”
“Oh no,” said my guide, “you do not understand. That is where the shepherd sleeps, the shepherd is the door.”
And then I understood something that had often puzzled me. It became clear to me why Jesus had in John 10 called himself first the Door and then immediately afterwards the Shepherd. Since he is the Shepherd he is also the Door.
The story above, written by Eric Bishop(from An Easter Sourcebook, 81), about Jesus’ statement: “I am the door/sheepgate,” illustrates the characteristics of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd protects the sheep, knows them by names, and give his life for them.
Little Lamb, A Poem by William Blake
Little Lamb, who made thee? | Dost thou know who made thee? | Gave thee life, and bid thee feed | by the stream and o’er the mead; | Gave thee clothing of delight, | softest clothing, wooly, bright; | Gave thee such a tender voice, | Making all the vales rejoice? | Little Lame, who made thee?| Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee, | Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee: | He is called by thy name, | For he calls himself a Lamb. | He is meek, and he is mild; | He became a little child.| I a child, and thou a lamb, | We are called by his name.| Little Lamb, God bless thee! | Little Lamb, God bless thee!
William Blake, Eighteenth century (from An Easter Sourcebook, 73).
The Good Shepherd, A poem by Henry W. Baker
The king of love my shepherd is, | Whose goodness fails me never; | I nothing lack if I am his, | and he is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow | My ransomed soul he’s leading, | And where the verdant pastures grow | With food celestial feeding.
You spread a table in my sight; | Your saving grace bestowing; | And O what transport of delight | From your pure chalice flowing!
And so through all the length of days | your goodness fails me never; | Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise | Within your house forever.
Henry Baker, Nineteenth Century (from An Easter Sourcebook, 75).