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To look at some of the symbols used to describe Jesus found in John’s Gospel.

by Michelle Walker

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To look at some of the symbols used to describe Jesus found in John’s Gospel.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some symbols or trademarks (see 1. below).
  • Some pictures of the symbols used in John’s Gospel, or actual items if possible: bread/roll, candle/torch, picture of gate or door (or use a nearby example!), pictures of a shepherd or sheep, a one-way sign, a grapevine or some grapes.


  1. Ask the children if they have any fun nicknames (be sensitive to unkind name-calling). Ask if there is a particular reason why they are called this name – does it describe them well? If you had any as a child tell them – if you can!

    Or you could show the children any well-known symbols of shops or trademarks and ask them to guess what they represent, e.g. the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike tick or your local football team’s badge.
  2. Explain that in the Bible there were lots of symbols that Jesus used to describe himself. He was trying to make it easy for his followers to think about him and his message. Today we are going to look at some of the symbols Jesus used. You could hold each picture/item up as you go along and see if the children can guess before you explain.

    John 6.35: I am the bread of life
    What is bread? An important food – almost every country in the world has some kind of bread. It is a food that gives us energy and helps us to grow and survive. Christians believe that Jesus feeds us by his teachings about love.

    John 8.12: I am the light of the world
    What is light? Something that stops darkness. Light can make us feel safe, help us to see clearly. Christians believe that Jesus can help to show them the correct way to live and be of comfort when they seem to be in dark or sad situations.

    John 10.9: I am the gate or door
    What is a gate or doorway? An opening or entrance to another room or place. Christians believe that if they trust in Jesus he will be their gateway to living a better life now and after they die.

    John 10.11: I am the good shepherd
    What does a shepherd do? Looks after sheep. Shepherds know all about their sheep, their names and differences. Christians believe that Jesus is like a shepherd because he wants to take care of us. He knows everything about us, our names and differences. He wants everyone to become part of his flock.

    John 14.6: I am the way
    What does this sign show us? The way to go. Who has ever been lost? How did you feel? Christians believe that Jesus can show us the right way to lead our lives. They can follow the example of Jesus by doing good to others.

    John 15.5: I am the vine
    What is a vine? What grows on a vine? Grapes. The grapes need the vine so that they can grow into strong healthy bunches of grapes. The vine gives them everything that they need. Christians believe that Jesus is like a vine because he gives them everything that they need. If they read the Bible and pray they will grow as Christians, becoming better people.
  3. Challenge the children to try to remember some of the symbols used to remind people of Jesus. And ask if they can find some nice nicknames that describe people well.

Time for reflection


Think of someone you know and like. Can you think of a fun and friendly nickname to describe them: maybe ‘The Comedian’ because they always make you laugh, or ‘Fast forward’ because they talk fast, or ‘Jamie Oliver’ because they’re a great cook!



Dear God,

Thank you for giving us lots of symbols that help to remind us of Jesus

and how he wants us to live.

Please help us to live, work and play in harmony with everyone around us.



‘Lord of the dance’ (Come and Praise, 22)

Publication date: June 2007   (Vol.9 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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