The Sheep Know Jesus’ Voice: This kids Bible lesson reminds students that God is our “shepherd”, who cares for us and provides us with all that we need. He knows us inside and out and wants us to be safe and secure. We can take comfort in trusting that Jesus is our protector and guide, and will be with us always. God will never abandon us, Jesus is watching over his sheep.
This 30 minute PDF lesson plan is perfect for kids church or children’s ministry. The link below includes coloring pages, craft ideas, and object lesson to help kids learn about Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Passage: John 10:1-18; Psalm 23
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade
Materials Needed: Cotton balls
More Bible Teaching Activity and Lesson Plans on the Good Shepherd
- Compare our John 10:1-10 Sunday School Lesson “Jesus is the Good Shepherd”
- Compare I AM the Good Shepherd Lesson from John 10:11-16 for Children’s Ministry
- Browse more teaching activities and kids Bible lesson on Jesus the Good Shepherd
- See the MTC playlist on YouTube on Jesus the Good Shepherd
Sheep Themed Games to Introduce the Bible Lesson
Lesson Opening: There are many fun sheep activities for students. Since this lesson focuses on the Lord as a good shepherd, and our role in listening for his voice, highlight those elements in particular.
- “Wolf and sheep”: this variation on freeze tag begins with one student as a “shepherd” and another as “wolf.” The remaining students will scatter across a playing field. If tagged by the wolf, students must “baa” and lie or crouch down. The shepherd will use a long pool noodle “staff” to un-tag the sheep and try to bring them back into the center of the playing field. The goal is to bring all sheep into the center without letting them stray or get caught by the wolf.
- “Which Sheep is this”? Start with a blindfolded “shepherd.” The “sheep will mill about the playing area. When touched by the shepherd, players will make a “baa” sheep sound, and see if the shepherd can identify who he/she is touching.
- Sheep round-up (especially fun for younger students): scatter and/or hide cotton balls around a classroom, and have students gather them up as “sheep.”
Explain for students that there are a lot of beautiful descriptions we have in the Bible for who God is and how He loves and takes care of us. One of the ways that God is described is as a shepherd, a good shepherd who watches out for His sheep and even lays down His life for them.
Ask: Do you know what a shepherd does? Do you know any shepherds?
Bible Story Video: The Sheep Listen to the Good Shepherd
Children’s Ministry Bible Lesson for Kids (Psalm 23 and Acts 10:1-18) The Sheep Hear Jesus Voice
Bible Lesson: The passage from John is spoken by Jesus, describing how He cares for us and lays down His life. This passage is a good one to read out loud for children, pausing to discuss and describe. Older students can take turns reading themselves, if willing. Be sure to point out that Jesus is speaking.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. -John 10:1-3
Jesus is using a metaphor here. He explains that robbers or thieves might try to steal sheep from a flock. Students might need a bit of explanation regarding the roles of shepherds: they were to take care of sheep and make sure wild animals or thieves did not snatch them away. Sheep tend to follow wherever their guard leads them, trusting the shepherd and letting him lead. Jesus says that sheep know the shepherd’s voice, as we should know His voice.
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. -John 10:4-6
Ask: Have your parents ever talked to you about staying close to them in a crowd? What should you do if a stranger tries to talk to you and your parents aren’t close? A shepherd was a guardian for the lambs. They would listen carefully for his voice.
Jesus wanted people to know how much He cared for them, and to understand why He had come. He came to care for us and ultimately to die for us. Sometimes, the shepherd would lie down in front of the gate to protect the flock from danger or escape. Jesus said that He did the same thing. In fact, He said that He would lay down His very life. A great shepherd is willing to go up against enemies in order to keep the sheep safe. Jesus conquered death to give us life.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. -John 10:7-11
Jesus wanted to emphasize that He was the “real thing.” If danger came, a servant or other guardian would be more likely to run away than stay and fight off a foe for the flock. The true shepherd would genuinely care for the lambs. Jesus is that true shepherd. This is a comforting image for us, because we know that Jesus cares for us deeply and knows us.
Ask: Do you have any pets? You probably love and care for your pets, and they know that you do…Jesus loves us so much more than that! And He wants to care for us.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” -John 10:11-18
There’s one more thing in these verses that can be tricky to understand. Jesus said that he had “other sheep not of this fold…” but that He would bring them in to be “one flock, one shepherd.” For older students, explain that Jesus was referring to the Gentiles. In the time Jesus was on Earth, Jews thought they were the only chosen people. But Jesus came to show that anyone and everyone can be part of God’s family, if they trust Christ and follow Him as the way, truth, and life. No one forced Jesus to sacrifice His life for us, but He gave it because He loves us!
Ask: So…at the beginning of the lesson we asked if you knew any shepherds. What do you think? You do know a shepherd. In fact, you know THE Good Shepherd…His name is Jesus!
If time allows, review Psalm 23 as well, noting the other beautiful and comforting descriptions of a shepherd (leading beside still waters, restoring the soul, comforting, finding food and protection). Explain that David (yes, Goliath-slaying King David) was a shepherd at one point, and he wrote this psalm. Review how God is like the shepherd in that passage.
Learning Activities and Crafts on The Lord Jesus Christ is My Shepherd
Lesson Review Activities: Choose a craft or activity connected to the story:
- Review questions about the story (what does it mean that Jesus is the Good Shepherd? How does God protect you? What was David’s job before he became king? How do we act like sheep sometimes?).
- Make a sheep puppet, gluing cotton balls to a decorated paper bag. Add a face and “legs”, as well. You could also use a cup as the base for the sheep puppet, adding cotton balls around it and attaching to a popsicle stick.
- Make a sheepy snack! Place pretzel sticks into marshmallows, using four for “legs” and attaching a mini marshmallow “head” as well.
- Hand print sheep: Take a hand print from students. Flip the hand upside down so that the four fingers look like legs, with the thumb acting as head. Attach cotton balls and eyes to turn the hand into a lamb.
- Clothespin sheep: Use thick cardstock as a sheep body, cutting out a cloud shape and attaching cotton balls or cotton batting. Use clothespins for the legs and add a head with eyes and ears.
Close with prayer, thanking God for caring for us as a good shepherd. Ask for help in trusting and loving Him over all things.