I Am the Good Shepherd
The third in a series considering the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri) - Church Schools
To consider Jesus’ claim that he is the good shepherd.
Preparation and materials
Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- a flock of sheep with two shepherds, available at: https://tinyurl.com/m279g4j
- a sheep caught in a bush, available at: https://tinyurl.com/kfsdslz
- some frightened sheep running away, available at: https://tinyurl.com/m4zyh4d
- a sheep on its back, available at: https://tinyurl.com/lbwsfw4
- some sheep in snow, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ltayj8n
- some sheep rescued from water, available at: https://tinyurl.com/kocuffr
- Aretha the sheep stuck on a narrow ledge, available at: https://tinyurl.com/n53h3yr and https://tinyurl.com/m2vtuaj
You may wish to familiarize yourself with the previous assemblies in this series:
- ‘Bread of Life’, available at: http://www.assemblies.org.uk/pri/2845/bread-of-life
- ‘Light of the World’, available at: http://www.assemblies.org.uk/pri/2866/light-of-the-world
Have available the Bible passage found in Luke 15.3-7. You may wish to arrange for a child to read this story.
If you have completed other assemblies in this series, remind the children of the use of a metaphor to describe a person. Jesus isn’t really a loaf of bread or a light, but the descriptions tell us something important about him. Explain that this assembly is going to look at another of the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus.
Explain that in the Bible (John 10.11), Jesus says, ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’
Ask the children what they think Jesus might mean by this statement.
Explain that this assembly will look at sheep, their characteristics and the role of a shepherd. In biblical times, there were many sheep in the fields, so many shepherds were needed.
Sheep need a shepherd to take care of them. We can see sheep in the fields as we travel through the countryside, and it is important that the sheep are placed where they can get all the things that they need to stay healthy. A shepherd must place them in good pastureland where they can get water as well as food. In the dry area where Jesus lived, it was important that shepherds led their flocks to good pasture and streams of water.
Show the image of a flock of sheep with two shepherds.
In Jesus’ time, the shepherd walked ahead of his sheep and the sheep followed him. The shepherd would have a rod and a staff with him. The rod was for protection, to frighten away any wolves or wild animals that wanted to harm the flock. The staff had a curved bit at the top so that if a sheep got stuck in a bush or down a cliff, the shepherd could pull it out.
Sheep can get into all sorts of trouble!
Ask the children for ways in which they think sheep could get into trouble.
Show the images of sheep in danger.
When Jesus spoke about sheep, he was actually speaking about people. He describes us as his sheep.
Do you sometimes get all tangled up in a problem, in frustration? And the more you try to get free, the more stuck you become?
Do you sometimes feel afraid and don’t know which way to turn?
Do you sometimes feel helpless, or weak, or lost or in danger?
Aren’t we all a bit like sheep?
Time for reflection
Show the images of Aretha the sheep stuck on a narrow ledge.
A few years ago, there was a news story about a sheep who got stuck on a ledge in a cliff. Locals nicknamed her Aretha in honour of Aretha Franklin’s famous song, ‘Rescue me’. Someone spotted Aretha stuck on a ledge, but no one was sure how she had got there. Sadly, in the end, rescue teams were unable to get to her.
There is a Bible story about a shepherd who looks for a missing sheep. It is found in Luke 15.3-7. The shepherd of a flock of a hundred sheep notices that one of them is missing. He leaves the other 99 and goes in search of the missing one. Jesus uses the story to illustrate that he would never give up on us. He loves us very much and he knows that we need his love and protection. This is why he is a good shepherd.
Thank you that you are a good shepherd.
Thank you that you know our names and that you care for us.
Thank you that you know all the dangers we can face in life.
Thank you that you never want us to walk alone.