The wolf is sometimes employed as a symbol of jealousy, greed or evil. Sometimes it is used as a symbol of being "stiff-necked" because of on an old superstition that wolves could not turn their heads.
Unfortunately, positive symbolism is rare.
The wolf is also used in conjunction with several Bible passages, mentioned below.
The wolf is somewhat rare in visual arts, though it can occasionally be found in sculpture. Chances are you won't find it in stained glass. If you have seen it in stained glass, please, let me know! The wolf is used frequently in literature and poetry. One notable example is the first canto of Dante's Inferno, in which a she-wolf symbolizes greed.
Wolves are sometimes anthropomorphized, indicating that a particular person or kind of person is not to be trusted. Though this kind of image may appear to be a werewolf, the image is intended to be symbolic.
Read Isaiah 11.1-10 and 65.17-25.
The church has traditionally interpreted these passages as references to the birth of Jesus. Passages like Revelation 22 and Romans 15 connect Jesus to the imagery of the shoot of Jesse (Revelation mentions David, Jesse's son).
Isaiah, describes a world in which nature itself is turned upside down. In the world described in Isaiah, what happens to the wolf? What does the wolf symbolize? Which part of Isaiah's imagery appeals to you most?
Next read John 10.11-18.
This is a story told by Jesus. In this passage, who is the good shepherd? In that case, what might the wolf symbolize?
The wolf is tricky to use when preaching. Relying too heavily on negative imagery like this can shift the focus away from Jesus. Keeping that tendency in mind, passages like Isaiah provide great ways to describe the power of Christ's love, and the impact of the resurrection which give us glimpses of Isaiah's vision.
Pairing the image of the wolf with the Good Shepherd also provides a natural corrective to the danger of losing focus. This image would be an interesting one to combine with Psalm 23, allowing the wolf to represent evil or the valley of the shadow of death.
The wolf could work during lent, as we wrestle with the reality of sin. It could also be a powerful image on Good Friday when combined with John 10.
Another appropriate use would be any time the congregation is wrestling with loss, or feeling as if they have been the victim of greed or jealousy. Conversely, it works when the congregation is guilty of those evils.
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