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Tales Of Jesus

Tales Of Jesus



Youth sessionParables


Paul Lee, St Albans Vineyard

The Tales Of Jesus - 1 - Sheep And Goats

Key text

Matthew 25 : 31-46

A number of Jesus’s parables teach us that there is power in the choices that we make. We will look at this through the parable of a heard of sheep and goats.

Today we are going to be starting a new series called the Tales of Jesus. We will be looking at some of the tales, or parables that Jesus told and discovering what they mean for us today.

The parable we are looking at today is focused on the power that is behind the choices that we make, and how these can change the course of our lives forever.

Make Your Choice


To start thinking about making choices we are going to start by playing a game. For each choice you need to vote for the option that you prefer by moving to that side of the room.

Get the youth to stand up in the middle of the room. Then tell them to vote for the choice on the cards that they prefer by moving to that side of the room. Each time once they have chosen ask a few of the youths why they made the choice that they made.

Every day our lives are filled with choices, and there are many different things that can influence or decision. Some might be based on what our friends think, what we have heard from other people. Some might be based on our own preferences, for what we prefer. Then some decisions are based on what we know to be right or wrong.

Some choices, such as the choice between Coke and Pepsi make no real difference to our lives. However other decisions can have a much bigger impact, as we will see in our first tale by Jesus.

A Shepherds Tale...


  • Mini whiteboards and pens

We are going to look at the tale of “The sheep and the goats” which we will read from Matthew 25 : 31 - 46.

All of Jesus’s tales or parables were intended to teach us something. What do you think this parable is trying to teach us?

Encourage the youth to share what they think the lesson of this parable is.

Here we see Jesus comparing us to a flock of sheep and goats, which he has separated into two different herds. The people have been made into a sheep or animal based on the decisions that they have made during the lives. With sheep being rewarded for the good choices, and the goats being punished for their bad ones.

In the parable Jesus gave some examples of the decisions that the people would have made during the lives. In pairs or threes have a chat about any other examples of good ‘sheep like’ decisions that we might make today, and write these down on your whiteboards.

Encourage the youth to share their ideas with each other and then go around the group and get them to share their ideas.

So, there are lots good examples of kind and good things that we can do to reflect the sheep like behaviour that Jesus was talking about in this parable.

Sheep Vs Goats

You might think from looking a sheep and goats that they are pretty similar animals. Sheep are a bit bulkier and have a furrier coat, but beyond that it would be easy to think that beyond that they are pretty comparable, after all they both wander around eating grass.

Show the image of a sheep and goat while speaking next section.

Take a look at this picture what are the similarities and differences that you can see between sheep and goats?

Encourage the youth to share their thoughts.

From just looking it would be easy to think that sheep and goats that they are pretty similar animals. Sure, there are some differences: sheep are a bit bulkier and have a furrier coat, but beyond that it would be easy to think that beyond that they are pretty comparable, after all they both wander around eating grass.

However, Jesus and the people he was speaking to knew that there are significant differences between sheep and goats. Most significantly for this parable sheep travel in flocks, guided by their shepherd who leads them safely where they need to go. Whereas goats are more likely to wander off on their own finding their own path and being followed by their keeper.

Many times, we see that Jesus compares his followers to sheep rather than any other animal, and this was no accident. A famous pastor called Charles Spurgeon, put it like this:

Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect - that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God’s people.

When we look at it like this we and combine it with the good ‘sheep like’ behaviour that we spoke about earlier we can see that there is more in this story that Jesus is showing to us.

This tale isn’t just saying to us be nice to people because if you do you will be part of the ‘sheep’ herd and go to heaven. He is showing us by staying close to him, the shepherd and being alongside other sheep (which are other followers of Jesus). We will naturally become more and more sheep like, to the point that it becomes totally natural for us, and we don’t even realise we are doing it.

We see this ‘natural sheep-like behaviour’ rather than ‘being like a sheep to get a reward behaviour’ being mentioned in Matthew 25 : 37-40 where the sheep are truly surprised by when they showed kindness to God.


After spending a little longer looking at this parable, has anyone changed their mind on what this parable is trying to teach us? If so what do you think?

Give an opportunity for the youth to share their views.

Hopefully the emphasis of the group will now be on the importance of being close to Jesus and his people, and that though this we will begin to display the sheep-like qualities of kindness that Jesus hopes for us.

What Do You Look Like?

Think about this by yourself. What do you think you look like? Is your life resembling a sheep or a goat?

If you were to ask your friends, the people in your class, your teachers, your family or your neighbours how do you think that they see you? If you were to look at yourself what do you see? How do you think that God sees you?

Give a few moments to allow the youth to think about this. You may want to play the music video on the iPad in the background. Also, you might want to encourage them to pray by themselves or for each other after thinking about it.

The good news is however you see yourself, or however you think other people or God might see you. Jesus wants to be your shepherd, he loves you and wants to see you as a sheep in his flock forever. We just need to stay close to him. Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus,

We thank you that you are our shepherd, and that you want to care for us and guide us in the right direction.

Help us to choose to stay close to you, and make good sheep-like choices every day. Give us the strength and courage to live the way that you know is best for us.

Thank you that you care for us and want us to be part of your flock.