The term “sheep” is used 197 times in the scriptures. “Shepherd” or “Good Shepherd” is found 111 times throughout the Bible. The first time “sheep” is used is in Genesis 4:2 when we are told that Cain grew crops and Abel looked after the sheep.
In this lesson of The Family Bible Journaling Project, the terms “sheep” and “shepherd” are explored. Keep this question in mind: How does the Lord use this metaphor to explain the gospel throughout the Old and New Testaments?
If you are new to this Bible Lesson Series, be sure to read the introduction to answer any questions you might have. Because this is a family activity, gather in an area which allows for you to “circle up” and see each other. We sat at the kitchen table.
Be sure to pray as a group before beginning.
Materials: a stuffed sheep (if enough, have one sheep per person); or find a great picture to print out
Time: 20-30 minutes
Background: (for older children or adults) God uses the metaphor of sheep all throughout scripture. From Abraham lacking a lamb for a sacrifice, to the entire sacrificial system, to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. A fascinating read, explaining the manners and customs of shepherds, is this pdf by Fred H. Wight. A wonderful picture book based on Psalm 23 is He Is My Shepherd by Helen Haidle.
Sheep are not smart animals. They can’t protect themselves, will eat bad food, and wander off. They are useful in some ways, such as wool for clothes, and meat to eat. However, sheep are not known for their superpowers.
Brainstorm: Place the sheep in the middle of the group. What do sheep look like? What do they do? What does a shepherd do? What tools do shepherds use? Allow for discussion.
Think: What does Jesus call himself? How do you think Jesus is like a shepherd? If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who are we? How did the sheep behave? How should we behave? What does the Good Shepherd do for his sheep? How did Jesus do this?
Journal: Take 10-15 minutes of quiet time to write out thoughts. Younger children can draw pictures, while older children can write and doodle. Allow for an atmosphere of prayer. When younger children are finished, ask them to tell you about what they put in their journals. You might want to write down their thoughts.
Our Examples of Bible Journaling:
Take It Deeper: (for older children and adults) Read Matthew 25:31-40. What do these scriptures add to your previous thoughts?
I’d love to see examples of your journal entries! If you email your entries to me I’ll be sure to share them with others to encourage them in their own journaling activity! Everyone has different gifts, and I’m not much of an artist, but I know your journals will be brilliant!
Send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Marie is a Bible Teacher and Bible curriculum writer with more than 25 years of experience. She has created Bible lessons and taught children about Jesus at churches, camps, Christian Schools, and conferences. She is the owner of FutureFlyingSaucers Resources where she helps busy parents and church leaders teach fun, flexible, multi-age, budget-friendly bible object lessons that enhance the spiritual growth of children. She lives with her husband and three children in South Carolina.