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With Actions (Sheep and Goats 1)

August 9, 2010

This is the first lesson on the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25). I cut the parable before the chastisement of the goats in order to keep the story short and the focus on the call to good works rather than reward/punishment. In doing so, my biases are revealed (not for the first time) but I hope it is not just my biases that make me think a lesson on how to live well is more suitable for children than one on the eternal punishment awaiting those who fail to do so. If you feel strongly that the story’s integrity is damaged by cutting it short, it would be easy enough to add the second half without changing the activity. You’re on your own for fielding kids’ questions, though!

Things to know about this lesson:

  • It is super easy. You need no supplies, no open space, no prep beyond a quick read-through. Enjoy!

With Actions

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Who can tell me what holiday we just celebrated? (Easter)

What happens at Easter? (Jesus dies and is raised again)

That’s right. Jesus is alive! Death and sadness was not strong enough to beat life and joy and love. As Christians, we try to remember that even when it is hard to remember because of our problems or the problems in the world. We also try to share that good news with other people by telling them about it and by working hard to be on the side of life and joy and love. We try to live in the way Jesus lived – the way God wants us to live. But it’s not always easy.

Jesus told the people who followed him many stories to help them understand God and how God wanted them to live. Some of these stories are in the Bible and, even though they are very, very old, they are still helpful to us. We are going to read one of those stories today.

Read the Story

When the Son of Man comes in glory with all the angels, he will sit on the throne and be the king of the whole world. All the people in the world will be gathered in front of him, and he will sort the people into two groups just like a shepherd sorts the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the king will say to the people at his right hand,

“You are blessed by my Father. Come into the wonderful kingdom that God has prepared for you because when I was hungry, you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.”

Then these good and happy people will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

The king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, whenever you did it to anyone, even unimportant people, you did it to me because they are all members of my family.”

(Matthew 25:31-40)


Who do you think the king was in the story? (Jesus)

And who was the king’s Father? (God)

What were the things that the good people did?

Help the students name all six good works. If necessary, you can identify the needs and get the students to name the remedies.

What do you think Jesus meant when he said that doing these things to people in need was the same as doing them to him?

Introduce the Activity

It is very important to remember that Jesus told us to do these good works for other people so I want us to memorize the list. A good way to memorize something is to make up actions so that our bodies can help our brains remember. What would be a good action for being hungry? (e.g. hold stomach as if suffering from hunger pains)

Help the students come up with an action for each need. Let them get a little silly, if they want.

Play the Game

Drill the group in the actions by calling out a need at random. Get faster as they get better at it and mix them up so as to make transitioning between actions difficult. Do things like establish a pattern and then change it suddenly to try and catch them off guard.

After a little while, tell them you are going to reread the story and they should put in the actions. Reread the story.


Challenge the students to name the needs and remedies, with the actions, by themselves.

Well done! But remember that Jesus did not tell us just to memorize his story. He told us to do these things for anyone who needed them. And, when we do, we are taking care of Jesus himself.

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for Jesus’ stories in the Bible and for the help they give us in learning how we should live. Help us to do more than just read the stories – help us to do the things they tell us to do. Amen.

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