No other of the I AM sayings (Greek: ego eimi) in the Gospel of St. John enjoys such widespread acceptance as I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). This week I uploaded Episode 34 in the AIC Bible Study series The Holy Bible: the New Testament in which I complete my discussion of both I AM the Door and I AM the Good Shepherd. For that video I prepared a detail from the Mayer of Munich stained glass window at St. Joseph’s Villa Chapel, Richmond, VA. This window is located in the upper wall of the Nave on the North side. The Mayer artists created six-sided panels using soft pastel colors in shades of blue and green, separated by the black lead cames, making the red-robed image of Jesus appear to float on the light from the sky outside. The technique is described in the AIC publication, Paintings on Light: the Stained Glass Windows of St. Joseph’s Villa Chapel, available in paperback from my author page at Amazon.com. Paintings on Light includes high-resolution pictures of 43 of the 46 stained glass windows in the Chapel. Later this year or early in A.D. 2015, I will produce a DVD version to be offered through Amazon.
The Mayer artists depict Jesus with a lamb in His right arm, a shepherd’s crook (or crozier) in His left
hand, and a small flock of lambs at His feet. The lamb in His arm wears a small bell around its neck, signifying that it is the lead lamb which the others will follow. The same type of bell appears in another window at the Chapel, The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven, in which the Blessed Virgin also holds a lamb in her arms. It is one of five small windows located on the ground floor in the South Aisle.
Jesus is indeed our true Shepherd, following in the image of the Twenty-third Psalm (“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want….”) and other shepherd imagery from the writing prophets of the Old Testament. As Jesus tells us in John 10, He knows His sheep and they recognize His voice and will follow Him. He assures us: “I have come that they [the faithful sheep) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). The Old Testament and New Testament models for Jesus as shepherd are discussed in detail in the “Shepherd” entry in Layman’s Lexicon, another AIC publication available at the Amazon author site linked above.
In the Greek language, shepherd is Poimen. The classic Eastern Orthodox depiction of Jesus as Good Shepherd is available as a printed icon on a wood base at St. Isaac of Syria Skete, Boscobel, WI (stock number I061114a). The icon is labelled in the background, O Poimen, O Kalos, which means Good Shepherd. The halo includes the three Greek letters meaning I Am that I Am, the words spoken by God to Moses (Exodus 3:14, 15).
The next Bible Study video, Episode 35, will be focused on the final two I AMs, I AM the Resurrection and the Life and I Am the True Vine, the latter being part of Jesus’ final sermon to the Apostles before His arrest on the evening of Maundy Thursday.
The AIC publication, Christian Spirituality: an Anglican Perspective is now available in both paperback and Kindle version from my author page (use the link above). The Kindle version was being uploaded this morning. There is a discount for the Kindle edition for purchasers of the paperback edition through Amazon/Kindle.