4th Sunday of Easter
From “Saving the Ants”
Preparation (Optional): You can bring a picture of Jesus as the Shepherd or point out a picture in the church. Show your illustration after asking the children if they know who the Good Shepherd is. Pick your volunteer “wolf” out ahead of time.
Who is the Good Shepherd? Can anyone tell me? (Let children respond.) Yes, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (You may show your illustration here.) In the Gospel lesson read today, Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7 NLT). So besides being a shepherd, Jesus is the door.
Did you know that in Bible times, a couple thousand years ago, being a door was part of a shepherd’s job? The sheep pen was usually a stone wall built in a circle with only one opening. So after the shepherd had gathered all the sheep into the pen for the night, he would have to lie down across the opening to guard the sheep. The only way a wolf could get in was through that door, so the wolf would have to deal with the shepherd first. Do you think a good shepherd would let a wolf through that door? No sir! The shepherd would drive the wolf away!
Let’s see if we can build a sheep pen here at the front of the church. I need some volunteers to be part of the wall. (Choose some kids and help to arrange them.) You stones sit here along the altar rail and don’t move. You’re part of the wall. We’ll pretend that the wall goes all along the altar rail, so a wolf can’t get in that way. We’ll leave an opening here for the doorway.
Now the rest of you are sheep. It’s getting dark, so you’d better get into the fold. You’ll be safe there. Now, I need a good shepherd. The good shepherd comes over here and lies down in the doorway. The shepherd is the door to the sheep fold. It’s a good thing too, because there’s a big, scary-looking wolf out here who’s on the prowl for a late-night snack of leg-of-lamb. See the wolf? (Choose somebody ahead of time from the congregation who would be willing to help.)
The wolf is going to try to sneak past the shepherd without waking him up to get at the sheep. If the shepherd touches the wolf, then the wolf has to run away and the sheep are safe. (Let players act it out.)
Thank you, shepherd, for protecting the sheep. We can be thankful that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that he always watches over us. We remember that Jesus gave up his own life to save us from sin and death.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for keeping us in your care.