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Word Pictures

Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach?

If you thought this question was about REAL butterflies, you’d answer it with a no. But you know that having “butterflies in your stomach” is a word picture for how you feel when you’re nervous. You can’t see inside your stomach, but you can see a butterfly’s wings fluttering. When your stomach feels like it’s fluttering, you can compare it to the movement of butterflies. That’s called a metaphor.

A metaphor helps you understand something by using another thing that is familiar. Metaphors link one idea to another.

God is beyond your eyes, hands, or ears, but the metaphors found in the Bible link you to pictures of God that you can touch, see, or hear. They are also used to show your relationship with God.


The word metaphor comes from two Greek words: meta, which means “involving change,” and pherin, which means “to bear.” Using these words, a metaphor can be explained this way: changing the meaning of something to a meaning that you can hold onto or carry in your mind.

Get a Bigger Picture

You can understand a metaphor better when you know more about the subject. Take a look at these examples:

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he finds one of great value, he will sell everything he owns and buy the pearl.

God is the potter,

I am the clay.

When a potter is shaping a piece of clay, she must apply pressure to the clay as the wheel turns, keep the clay damp so it doesn’t dry out, and keep it centered on the wheel so it won’t be uneven.

What does it mean that God is your potter?

Long ago, before people grew oysters for pearls, a person might have to open a thousand or more oysters to find a pearl. A really great pearl would be worth as much as a mansion.

What do you think Jesus wants you to know about the kingdom of heaven?

Broken Links

God wants you to know him and be linked to him. But something broke your link. That something is sin.

In the original languages of the Bible, the word sin was a metaphor, or picture, of a hunter missing what he was shooting at.

It’s sad but true. We all fall short of doing what God wants. Think of that sheep who wanted to go his own way.

But that isn’t the end of the story.

Fixed Links

God has a plan to reconnect you. It’s called salvation, a word that means God sets you free. God wants you to be free from your sins that send you wandering away from God.

Jesus told stories of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son in Luke 15 so that we could picture how much God wants to bring us back to him. Imagine loving arms around you, forgiving you and preparing a banquet for you. Think about it often. Think about it whenever someone gives you a hug. Think about it when you go to sleep at night. You may even want to draw a picture of it.

Woolly Metaphors

The Bible mentions sheep about 750 times. Sheep need a shepherd to lead them to water, help them find green pastures, and protect them from wild animals. But the sheep don’t always remember that they need their shepherd, so sometimes they take off on their own. Because of that, the Bible often uses sheep as a metaphor or picture of people who don’t think they need Jesus to guide them.

When Jesus came to earth he said he wanted to be your shepherd. And that’s not just a metaphor. Jesus, your Good Shepherd, cares about you, knows you by name, and gave up his life for you.

Q:  Which side of the sheep is the woolliest?

A:  The outside.

Q: How did the shepherd find his sheep in the long grass?

A:  Very satisfied.

Q:  What does a sheep say in February?

A:  Will ewe be my Valentine?

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