The fourth 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 gate.
Preparation and materials
Have available the following images of gates and the means to display them during the assembly:
- Buckingham Palace, available at: https://tinyurl.com/n4kajf4
- Hyde Park, available at: https://tinyurl.com/morj9dd
- Tower Bridge, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jz6dbc8
- the Golden Gate in Jerusalem, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ka3l36w
- the Arc de Triomphe, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y99l2u4o
- a sheep gate, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jvtcypa
- the Thames Barrier, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ljojshv
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
- ‘I Am the Good Shepherd’, available at: http://www.assemblies.org.uk/pri/2902/i-am-the-good-shepherd
- Have available the Bible passage found in John 10.9. You may wish to arrange for a child to read it.
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 or a shepherd, but the descriptions tell us something important about him. Explain that this assembly will look at another of the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus.
Show the first five images of gates.
Ask the children if they can identify these famous gates (Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, the Golden Gate in Jerusalem and the Arc de Triomphe).
Ask the children, ‘What are gates for?’
Listen to a range of responses.
Point out that gates let people in and out of a place, but they can also be used for protection.
Look at each of the five famous gates in turn and ask which gates are for entry and exit, and which are for protection. Identify that some gates are for both.
Ask a child to read John 10.9. In this passage, Jesus says, ‘I am the gate.’
Ask the children why Jesus would describe himself as a gate.
Listen to a range of responses.
Jesus had already described himself as the good shepherd. The kind of gate that Jesus is talking about here is a sheep gate.
Show the image of a sheep gate.
In biblical times, being a gate was part of a shepherd’s job. During the summer months, the shepherd would lead his sheep to the best pastureland. He would collect stones and build a round wall to make a pen, or fold. This enclosure had a single opening through which the sheep would go in and out to graze. At night, the shepherd would gather in all the sheep, count them and make sure that they were all settled for the night. Then, he would lie across the opening to guard the sheep. His body made the gate. He himself would die before he would let any harm come to his sheep. The only way that a wolf could get in was to deal with the shepherd first.
Show the image of the Thames Barrier.
The Thames Barrier was built on the River Thames east of central London in 1982. It is a flood barrier, used to stop high tides and storm surges from the North Sea from travelling up the Thames Estuary and flooding large areas of London. It is made of ten steel gates that stretch right across the river. When the gates are open, they lie flat on the river floor, letting the water flow freely. When they are closed, just after low tide, they block the river. The flood defences have been closed 177 times since the flood barrier became operational in 1984.
Time for reflection
Christians believe that, just like a shepherd cares for his sheep, Jesus protects them and keeps them safe. Christians also believe that Jesus came to lift up a barrier between people and God. They believe that the barrier is created by the wrong things that people do. They believe that when Jesus died on the cross, the barrier was broken down and a new, special way to God opened up. Jesus was the gate in this barrier: the way in to knowing God.
Thank you that you are a good shepherd who wants to protect us.
Thank you that you are a gate, helping us to get to know God.
Help us in our understanding of these things.