I Am…The Good Shepherd

Reflections by Maxie Dunnam

Napoleon was once visiting with a group of cynics and these skeptics concluded that Jesus was a great man, a good man, a great prophet, but nothing else. And Napoleon looked at them and said, “:Gentlemen, I know men, and Jesus is more than a man.” That’s the ultimate paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus is God and man.

Sometimes in human relationships, the more we know a person, the more we love them. Now that’s true, not because the more we know people, the greater they become in our eyes, because oftentimes as we know people, we begin to discover their weaknesses, their failures and faults, their shams and their shames. Now unlike our knowing other people, the more we know Jesus, the greater he becomes, and the more we love him. That’s the ultimate paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus is God and man.

This past Sunday Nov. 29, was the beginning of Advent. On the Christian calendar, this was the beginning of our year, marking the coming of Christ into the world. Two weeks ago, Nov. 18 we had one of the many creative events in the life of our community, an event that happens every six weeks. For me it was providential. One of the paintings from the show is pictured here. It was my wife, Jerry’s sketch for a painting of the “Holy Family” she was working on. Her word about the sketch is not only descriptive of the painting, it expresses something about the life of an artist.

I believe the sketch could legitimately be called “The Good Shepherd,” which was one of the great “I AM” claims of Jesus. During this Advent Season, in my desire to know Jesus better, I’m going to spend time pondering these great claims: I am the Good Shepherd, I am the bread of life. I am the door. I am the light of the world. I am the resurrection and the life. If Jesus were a mere man, then we could dismiss him as a mad egotist. But the more we know him, the longer we look at him, the more convinced we are that this is God’s picture of himself. He loves each one of us as though we were the only person in the world to love.

A Word from the Artist: Jerry Dunnam

The Touch

As Mary ponders the future, Joseph holds the baby secure in his protective arms. Baby Jesus stretches out his hand to touch the sheep. No matter how I sketched the Holy Family, baby Jesus was always stretching out his hand to touch the sheep. This troubled me until I remembered Mark 1:40-42. Jesus, the good shepherd, had listened to the leper and having compassion, he stretched out his hand and touched him. Now it was clear. Baby Jesus is reminding us to find, listen to and with compassion, stretch out our hands and touch his lost sheep.

-Maxie Dunnam