About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

Nika Kravchuk
29.03.2017

About the Good Shepherd icon, or when God carries us in his arms

In Orthodox iconography, most of the images are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and various saints. But there are also various images of the Savior. Among them, the Good Shepherd stands out in contrast - Christ holds a sheep on his shoulders. When did this image appear and how to understand it correctly?

Christ is my Shepherd

Gospel background

The lines of the Gospel of John were inspired to create this image by icon painters:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
... I am the good shepherd; and know mine, and mine know me.
As the Father knows Me, so I know the Father; and I give my life for the sheep ().

Good shepherd- this is Jesus Christ.

Sheep, prodigal sheep- these are people stuck in the sins and vanity of this world.

Christ with a sheep

But for the sake of their salvation, the Son of God came to the earth - the incarnate God-man. He literally laid down his life for the sheep - he sacrificed the Cross on God to reconcile the fallen man with the Creator, to reunite the broken connection.

This is the greatest sacrifice that you can imagine but never fully understand. How is this: the sinless God takes the most shameful death, crucifies along with the robbers, suffers shame and intolerable torment? How is it to voluntarily agree to die for the sake of people? And not some pure and flawless, but fallen, almost hopeless?

The key to understanding the image

It is impossible for man to realize the depth of Divine love and mercy. But when you look at the icon "Good Shepherd", you feel it in part. Icon painters managed to convey the main accents. We see Christ carefully holding this lost sheep on his shoulders. He has a staff in His hands, and a cross behind him. The same cross of Calvary, through which the Savior had to go for our redemption. Here it is love and sacrifice, the willingness to give life for human salvation.

Old Testament echo

It is not known exactly when this icon appeared. But the prerequisites for the image of the Shepherd we find in the Old Testament. The most vivid examples are quotes from the book of Isaiah and the Psalms.

Christ shepherds the sheep

The prophet Isaiah, who lived almost 800 years before Christ, writes:

As a shepherd, he will feed his flock; he will take the lambs in his hands and carry them on His chest, and shall drive the milkmen ().

Psalmist David in psalms calls the Lord his Shepherd:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I will not need anything ().

For King David, who, before ascending to the kingdom of the flock of sheep, the image of the shepherd seemed very close. Moreover, in the early images of the Good Shepherd, Christ painfully reminded King David in his youth: a young shepherd with a staff or a cross surrounded by sheep.

Over time, there were many variations on this topic. But all of them, one way or another, lead us to the same thought: the merciful Lord feeds his flock, and one sheep, which is probably worse than the others, carries in his arms.

When the Lord carries us in his arms ...

Read also:

There is such a modern parable: a person reproaches God for the fact that the Creator supposedly forgot about his creation. He promised to be always close, but in the most difficult moments left.

In order to figuratively show that a person is mistaken, the Lord invites him to look at the traces of life. Wherever this “lost sheep” went, there were always traces next to it. But in one place instead of double prints - man and God - only one remained. The man grumbled, "Lord, here you left me alone!"To which God replied: “No, I did not leave. These are not your tracks, but Mine. At that time, I just carried you in my arms. ”

That's how each of us, like a lost sheep, in the most difficult moments Christ carries in his arms. Just do not harden and think that in these moments, God has left us. Look for footprints in the sand: are they yours or the Lord's? "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."


Take it to yourself, tell your friends!
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  • About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

    About the icon The good shepherd, or when God carries us in his arms

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