Jesus, Our Good Shepherd

By Karla Schettenhelm, Children's Ministry

This week’s Sunday school lesson is about Jesus, Our Good Shepherd.

The overview of the lesson includes this statement about the Law and Gospel:
Because of sin, we face both physical and spiritual danger in this world. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us; He promises to lead, guide, and protect us.

The current state of things in our world certainly can fill us with the fear of danger, specifically now as the virus is invading our lives in many ways, but thankfully we can rely on Jesus to be our Good Shepherd being with us at all times, protecting us.

Let's start by thinking about what do we do to take care of our pets? Some answers are; we feed them, give them shelter, love them, give them exercise to stay healthy. We may take them to the vet to help keep them healthy. How does this compare with how God takes care of us?

The lesson comes from John 10:1-18 in the Bible and also includes Psalm 23. In the Bible story, we hear about sheep and how shepherds take care of them. Jesus tells us He is our Good Shepherd. Below is the synopsis of the Bible account in the Sunday school materials that you can share with your children.

Long ago, David wrote beautiful Psalm 23, where he compared himself to a sheep. For many years, he had been a shepherd keeping watch over the sheep of his father, Jesse. He realized God watches over us like a shepherd. So he started writing, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  (Psalm 23:1) In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

To understand what Jesus was saying, we need to know a little bit about sheep. Sheep are not strong animals. They are not extra fast, and they don’t have a lot of ways to defend themselves.  If a wolf attacks a herd of unprotected sheep, it has an easy time grabbing one. Also, sheep easily wander off from one another in search of food to eat. It is easy for them to get lost and hurt.

So a shepherd has a very important job. He has to watch his sheep carefully and always be ready to keep them safe, remembering that many wild animals are hunting after them. When Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd,” He was reminding us of how much we need Him.

Like sheep and lambs, we can’t see the wolves that are hiding in the tall grass, sneaking up to grab us.  The devil, the sinful people around us, and our own sinful desires put us in great danger.  But Jesus knows they are there.  He is keeping watch over them – and using His Word and His gifts to protect us from them.  

That is the greatest thing about Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Each of us was trapped, and the devil had us in great danger. But Jesus didn’t leave us. He went to the cross to suffer and die to save us. But He didn’t stay dead – a dead shepherd can’t help the sheep anymore. No, Jesus rose again, so He will always be our Good Shepherd, protecting us and leading us to heaven.

There are many scary things in this world, but we don’t have to be afraid, because Jesus is protecting us and guiding us through life. Jesus wants to protect everyone form every harm and danger and bring them home to the New Creation.
 
Here are some questions to discuss with your family about the lesson:
  • How are we like sheep?
  • How does Jesus protect us like a shepherd protects his sheep?
  • From whom or what do we need protection today?
  • Who are the people in our lives who are our earthly shepherds today?

Activities

Games

 “The Shepherd says” 
This is “Simon says” except the leader is “The Shepherd” instead of “Simon.” Let your children be “The Shepherd” – they love to be in charge!

Hide and Find
Hide a stuffed sheep, a toy sheep, or any stuffed or toy animal in the house. Have your children be the shepherd and try to find it – tell them if they are getting hotter (closer to finding it) or colder (further a way from it). You could hide multiple animals and have them find and gather them. Let them hide the sheep and see if you can find it!

Sheep in the Pen
Use cotton balls, egg cartons, and spoons for this activity. Have children pretend to bring the sheep (cotton balls) into their pens (egg cups) for the night using the spoons. Improvise if you do not have cotton balls or egg cartons – you could just use small wads of paper for sheep and small cups for the pens or anything else you and your child can figure out.

Sheep Races
Another activity you can do with the cotton balls and spoons (or other materials) is to have races – carry the cotton ball on the spoon to the finish line. Make it more challenging by making it several cotton balls at a time!

Art

Make a Sheep
An art activity for this week is to make a sheep – the cotton balls come in handy for this activity too. It could also be as simple as cutting white paper into the shape of a sheep and writing the Bible verse on it:  John 10:11 [Jesus says,] “I am the good shepherd.”

Many of these activities may seem more appropriate for younger children, but if you join in, (and your older child’s friends are not around), older children might enjoy them too!

Music

There are some great hymns and fun songs about sheep and our Good Shepherd.
I am Jesus’ Little Lamb                       
Have no Fear Little Flock                             
I just want to be a Sheep                   
The Baa Baa Song 
For Older listeners
Fernando Ortega's The Good Shepherd
Mercy Hill Worship Good Shepherd                         

Video

Do sheep only hear and listen to their shepherd's voice?
Watch here
Enjoy some sheep activities this week and while you are doing them, remember that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is taking such good care of us, guiding us and protecting us with every step we take!

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