The image of Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” is a very popular one among Christians around the world. This passage in the gospel of John, brings out some of the attributes that make the good shepherd “good”.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
“I just wanna be a sheep, ba ba ba ba – I just wanna be a sheep, ba ba ba ba – and I pray the Lord my soul to keep, I just wanna be a sheep.” (You Tube this song for the corniest biblical jokes! “I don’t want to be a Pharisee…”)
If Christ is the good Shepherd – then we are the sheep. There are many ways to talk to children about being followers of Jesus, similar to how sheep are followers of a shepherd. Just as we don’t always listen, sheep also don’t always follow direction. But a good shepherd really cares about the sheep – more than just a job!
One of my favorite parts of this passage is – “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” I wonder what the author of the gospel of John means by this?
It’s a classic activity to read this story together and glue some cottonballs on a paper plate, add some black paper for a head and legs on top and have some adorable sheep.
However, I also loved the wine cork paint stamping – it’s simple but perhaps a bit more sophisticated for those older children – and a great excuse to finish off that bottle of wine.
Peace, Deacon Erin