Sunday 10th May
Theme: I am the Good Shepherd
Target Age Group: 3 - 9
Approximate Time: 20 – 30 mins
Today we’re thinking about the image of Jesus being the Good Shepherd. He loves and looks after the sheep and the sheep trust him and listen to his voice. We’ll be thinking about who it is that we trust and how we know that those around us care for us. And then moving on to look at the ways in which Jesus loves us too. How can we learn to recognise his voice in our lives and follow his leading?
Icebreaker: Listen to my voice
One person in your family is blindfolded and the rest of you take turns to say a phrase – it could be ‘I am the Good shepherd. Listen to me’. You can put as much disguise on your voice as you like but the person with the blindfold has to guess who is talking.
For a harder game, you could play clips of famous celebrities or well know TV Characters and the blindfolded person has to guess who it is.
Point: It is often very easy to recognise the voices of those we know and love because we are used to hearing their voice often. With those we know less well it is a lot harder. Look out for our passage later where Jesus says that his sheep follow him because they know his voice
Pause for thought: Trust
Have a think about the people in your world that you trust. Either talk about who they are and why you trust them or make a list of them.
Who is that you trust?
Why do we trust people?
How do we know someone cares about us?
Song: The Lord’s my shepherd
Play ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ by Stuart Townsend
Scripture: John 10:1-18
Read Jesus’ declaration that he is the ‘Good Shepherd’ in John 10:1-18
1. Why do the sheep follow the shepherd but not the stranger?
2. How does Jesus describe himself in verse 11?
3. What does the hired hand do when he sees the wolf coming?
4. How is this different to how the good shepherd responds?
5. What has the thief come to do in verse 10?
6. How is this different to what Jesus offers?
7. From this passage, what three things make the good shepherd good?
In today’s passage, Jesus calls himself the ‘Good Shepherd’ and I think that has two particularly exciting meanings for us. The first is that He knows us by name. In verse 14, Jesus says ‘I know my sheep and my sheep know me.’ And in verse 3 he says; ‘He calls his sheep by name and leads them out.’ Why is this important? Well, imagine you have a pet. To you, it’s not just any guinea pig or rabbit or cat. We give our pets a name because it makes them unique or special – different to all the other rabbits or cats. When we give them a name it is the start of our relationship with them. They’re not just one in a crowd, they’re individual and special and mean something important to you. It’s the same with us and Jesus. Jesus knows you by name – he knows who you are, what makes you happy, what makes you sad and what is best for you. He calls you by name and he cares if you respond to him. Often it is easy to feel lonely or forgotten or insignificant. But you’re not. You’re a child of God with a name that Jesus knows. And that makes you special.
The second promise is that Jesus loves you so much that he lays down his life for you. In verse 12, Jesus says that when the hired hand sees the wolf coming he abandons the sheep and runs away. But the Good Shepherd stays and protects his sheep. He loves the sheep so much that he even lays down his life for them. I don’t know how you’d feel about being prepared to lay down our life for an actual sheep – to most of us the idea is probably ridiculous. Why would we care about a sheep so much that we’d be prepared to die for it? It’s a bit like that with Jesus. Why would the son of God love us so much that he’d be prepared to die for us? But he did. And it’s because we’re so important to God that he didn’t want us to be separated from him through our sin. So instead Jesus fights for us so that he can save us.
So if Jesus knows us and is going to be our good shepherd, then our task is to get to know him and follow him. If we don’t know him well, then like in our game earlier, we will struggle to recognise his voice. And if we struggle to recognise his voice, how are we going to hear what he says to follow him? So how do you get to know Jesus? The first way is through prayer. Jesus has already give us the promise in Matthew 7:7 : ‘Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.’ When we spend time with people we get to know them better and it is the same with God. The second way is through reading His word, the bible. In the bible we discover who God is, His promises and the way that He works with his people through history. And the third way is to practice being like him, loving the people he loves and making the choices that will honour him. After all, when you want to know someone you can spend time doing the things they love. And the more we do that the more we learn to love what they love.
When I go and pick Daniel up from school, even though there are about 25 other parents waiting outside the gate, Daniel is most happy when he sees me and will come to me rather than going off with another parent. The reason is obvious, I am His Father, I am there for him and He knows that I love him and will do anything for him. It’s the same with our relationship with God. There are many other false shepherds that we could choose to listen to. But only one of them is truly our Father, truly knows and loves us and will go to any lengths for us, including laying down the life of his son so that we can be saved.
Jesus’ voice or Bad choice
We’re going to practice seeing if we can recognise Jesus’ voice from the bad choice. From the following examples see if you can decide which of the following responses would be following Jesus’ voice;
There is a new child who has started at your school and it is their first day. Do you;
1. Ignore them completely – they will make friends eventually
2. Make an extra special effort to be kind to them and show them where everything is
3. Laugh every time they get something wrong
There are only three chocolate biscuit left on the biscuit table at church and a group of four of you Is approaching the table. Do you;
1. Run to the table as fast as you can to make sure you’re the first there
2. Prepare an emotional speech explaining why you most deserve to have the biscuit
3. Ask the others if they’d like a biscuit and be prepared to miss out.
You are playing in the dining room and knock over a vase of flowers which falls and breaks on the floor. Do you:
1. Blame it on your brother or sister – after all, they would probably do the same thing to you.
2. Pretend that nothing has happened and hope your parents don’t notice the mess
3. Go and find your mum and dad, explain what has happened and say sorry.
Point: Sometimes doing the right thing or making the Jesus choice can be hard. Sometimes we have to be prepared to miss out like in the biscuit example. Other times, being honest might be hard because we don’t know how other people will react – our parents might be cross if we tell them we broke the vase. But they would rather we were honest than hid the truth and they find out later. In the same way, God rewards those who walk with him. And with each choice that we make to follow Jesus’ voice it becomes easier to hear and follow his voice the next time.
Song: Our God is a great big God
Look up the following link and join in with the song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSTfM8M2Md8 (Just lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-424MpB_pd0 (With actions)
Craft Activity: Sheep
Today your craft activity is to make a sheep with whatever you’ve got in your house. Unlike other weeks we’re not going to give you specific instructions for how to make one but are going to encourage you to be creative. What do you have in your house that you could use? Some examples are shown below to help you;
Read Psalm 23 together and look at the ways at which the Lord fulfils the following roles of a shepherd. Can you find verses from this psalm that show each of these characteristics?
You may want to pray for some of the following things;
· That God helps you make good choices
· For those who lead and guide others
· For those most in need of practical love and support