‘I am the good shepherd…’ (Jn. 10:11)
Someone once gave me an icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd. It wasn’t a beautiful or attractive icon; in fact, it was rather primitive and rough, even sort of ugly. I put the icon on my bookshelf not because I would’ve chosen it for myself, but because it represented the generosity and kindness of the person who gave it.
One day my attention was drawn to that icon and I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. Jesus had very pronounced biceps, the kind of biceps that can only be developed through heavy weight lifting. I have, like you, seen many images of Jesus, but I’d never seen one that made Jesus look “buff.”
The longer I’ve had this icon the more deeply it has spoken to me, uplifted me, and sustained me. Sometimes we need depictions of tender Jesus, all forgiving Jesus, the Jesus who knows all the hairs on our head and whose heart catches all of our tears.
And then there are other times when we need fierce Jesus, powerful and mighty Jesus, the Jesus who will face down any demon, battle any foe, be our champion against all adversities, and be a warrior for us and with us.
When I received that icon, I wasn’t impressed with the artwork. As I said above, it was rather primitive and rough, even ugly. How foolish of me to be so dismissive.
The reason why that icon has increasingly spoken, uplifted, and sustained me is that life is often not pretty, not elegant, not refined, but primitive, rough, and even ugly. I may have smiled wryly when I noticed Jesus with biceps, but that’s exactly the kind of Jesus I so often need.
I wish I could send everyone reading this reflection a picture of this icon of Good-Shepherd-Buff-Jesus. Even though you might, like me, initially smile at it, I would encourage you to see those strong and powerful arms reaching out to you. As you try to picture the muscled Jesus, I’d like to remind you that our Good Shepherd’s strongest muscle is His heart.
- How and where might you need Good-Shepherd-Buff-Jesus in your life right now?
- One does not get big biceps without a lot of heavy lifting. Do you realize the heavy lifting that Jesus has done for you? Are you grateful that He lifted up and away sin and evil and death for you?
- Strong Jesus wants strong disciples. Weak disciples don’t honor the lifting He did for us. How might Buff Jesus be asking you to workout with Him to strengthen your own discipleship?