The Son of God is usually depicted as a slender, slightly muscular man. With his thin build, long hair and flowing robes, he doesn’t intimidate anyone. The Lamb of God is full of love for mankind, but that doesn’t mean he’s a weakling. As a Korean statue shows, sometimes Jesus is here not to bring peace but to bring a sword and swing it righteously.
This statue of Jesus the Bodybuilder is a compelling example of Korea’s love of Christianity. Rather than keeping traditional versions of Jesus, the church decided to make their own image of the Messiah. His muscles are bulging all over his body, and his lats are especially prominent in the front-facing view. Of course, there is precedence for a muscle-bound Jesus. He would have to been strong to kick the moneylenders out of the temple during his epic ragefest. It’s not clear when he would have had time to pump iron during his mission work, but that’s not the point. If we are all created in the image of God, then why not portray God with a body anyone would love to have?
Christianity is one of the largest religions in South Korea. The prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants his children to be financially and physically blessed, is especially popular on the peninsula. About 30% of Koreans consider themselves Christians, and many religious schools and churches can be found throughout the country.
Korea’s practice of Christianity is unique. The country is home to Buddhist, Confucian, Protestant and Catholic belief systems. Many Christians still honor their ancestors according to traditional practices, and religious iconography is often given a Korean flavor.