Here’s a children’s sermon on John 10:1-10 for the Fourth Sunday of Easter — or for any time you’d line to tell the kids a story about one of Jesus’ “I am” sayings. (You can find my “Monday Meditation” on this text right here.)
Talking to kids or adults about the “I am” sayings presents an invisible challenge. The “I am” sayings are so much a part of our Christian consciousness that we can easily slip into stereotyped interpretations far removed from the meaning of the text.
I’m hoping that by recasting Jesus’ metaphor (“I am the gate”) as a story, I can avoid those stereotypes. You can let me know if you think my children’s sermon on John 10:1-10 rings true, or if it goes too far afield.
A Children’s Sermon on John 10:1-10
Good morning kids! I am so glad to see you. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
I often think about Jesus’ life, and all the things that happened in between the parts you find in the Bible. Sometimes I imagine Jesus and his friends at the end of a long day. I picture them all sitting around a campfire.
They would talk about what they did that day. They would talk about what they might do tomorrow.
But eventually someone, maybe Peter, would say “Jesus, could you tell us a story?”
“Yeah,” Mary would say. “Something to help us all get to sleep.”
“Sure,” Jesus would say. Then he would think about it for a minute. Then he would start.
Some Sheep and their Shepherd.
Once upon a time there were some sheep. The sheep lived together inside four walls called a “sheepfold.” There was an opening in one wall, and that’s where the sheep went in and out.
Their shepherd took good care of them. During the day, their shepherd led them to good green grass, and cool clear water. At night the shepherd would bring them back safely to their sheepfold.
The sheep loved their shepherd.
He always called them by their very own names.
As they came out of the sheepfold he would greet each one of them. “Good to see you Clover. Did you have a good rest, Pillow? How are you, Cloudy? You’re looking well, Bright Eyes. Let’s go, Speedy, time for breakfast!”
In the evening when he brought them back home, he would count them off to make sure everyone was safe.
“Welcome back Clover! Come on in, Cloudy! Glad to be home, Bright eyes? I hope you found some good grass today, Speedy! But hey — where’s Pillow? Oh there you are Pillow! Whew!”
The Shepherd is the Gate
Once the sheep were all safely inside the sheepfold, the shepherd sat down in the little gap where the sheep went in and out.
That’s where the shepherd made his dinner.
That’s where the shepherd lay down to sleep.
The shepherd was just like a gate for the sheepfold.
With the shepherd there, no one could get in to steal the sheep or harm them. The shepherd kept the robbers out.
With the shepherd there, none of the sheep could wander out and get lost. The shepherd, like a gate, kept them all safe inside.
Robbers and Strangers
One day a wolf tried to jump over the walls of the sheepfold. But the shepherd jumped up and chased the wolf away.
One day, the shepherd had to go away from the sheepfold for a while.
“Stay inside the sheepfold, my friends!” the shepherd said. “I’ll be back soon. Bye, Clover! Bye, Cloudy! Bye, Pillow! Bye, Bright Eyes! Bye, Speedy!”
But while the shepherd was away, a stranger came up to the sheepfold.
“Hey sheep!” said the stranger. “Come with me! I’m your new shepherd! I’m taking you to my sheepfold. Let’s go!”
But the sheep just stared at the stranger with their big sheepy eyes.
“Who’s that?” asked Clover.
“I don’t know” said Cloudy.
“I don’t think we should go with him,” said Pillow.
”No way!” said Bright Eyes.
“I don’t know why,” said Speedy, “but I don’t think this stranger is safe.”
“Come on, you stupid sheep!” yelled the stranger. “Time to go! Let’s move!”
“I’m not going,” said Pillow.
“Yeah,” said Bright Eyes. “This guy doesn’t even know our names.”
So they all laid down and went back to sleep.
The stranger kept calling to the sheep. He went into the sheepfold and tried to make them stand up. He grabbed Cloudy and tried to drag her out by her wool.
“Baaaaah!!!” shouted Cloudy.
Right then, the Shepherd was on his way back to the sheepfold. He heard Cloudy calling out. So he started running. When he got to the gap in the wall he saw the stranger.
“You get away from my sheep!” yelled the shepherd. “Let go of Cloudy!”
And he chased that stranger away from his sheepfold. Then all the sheep went back to sleep.
“That was a nice story,” Peter said when Jesus was quiet. “But why did you tell it to us?”
“Well,” said Jesus, “first of all, because you asked for a story. But second, I’m like that shepherd. I’m the gate for the sheepfold.”
“What do you mean?” asked Peter.
“I know all my sheep — Peter,” said Jesus. “I call them all by name — Mary. I take care of my sheep. My sheep know my voice. They won’t follow a stranger. And if someone comes to harm my sheep I chase that robber away.”
- I wonder what the sheepfold really is?
- I wonder how Jesus really is like a shepherd or a gate?
- I wonder if you’ve ever heard the Shepherd call you by name?
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But, if you use it, please do one (or more!) of the following.
- You can let me know that you are using it, either in the comments below, or using the contact form above.
- You can put a little notice in your church bulletin that your children’s sermon is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
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