Jesus is Not Your Typical Hero.

Erik Raymond —  December 24, 2013

We are a culture that loves the hero story. From Potter to Skywalker to Frodo to Katniss, heroes captivate the young and old in their triumphant adventures.

Our English teachers would remind us that there are some essential elements to a hero story. You could argue for more or less, but here are some basic elements:

The Calling for the mission
The Rejection of the call
The Token or something powerful to help the hero
The Journey
The Guide
The Suffering
The Temptation to Quit
The Drive to Finish
The Victory and Reward

As you think through various stories you can doubtless identify these key elements.

It is popular (and easy) to see a correlation between Jesus and these heroes. After all, the mission of Jesus is the ultimate epic story.

But hold on. There is a stark difference. Among the items listed above there is one characteristic that is not present at any stage of the life of Christ. Did you catch it?

Amazingly, Jesus never rejected the call!

This is extremely significant as it separates Jesus from even the most exaggerated mythical heroes that our most creative minds can come up with.

When Christ makes a covenant with his Father to save and secure his people he never reneges. He never flinches. He is focused, at all times, upon the will of his Father. He came to do his will and accomplish his work.

This is why Jesus is so adamant in passages like Mark chapter 8. In his first reference to the cross in this gospel Mark captures Jesus’ emphasis:

(Mar 8.31) And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Did you notice that word ‘must’ there? It is a word of necessity, compulsion, priority, obligation. Jesus is fixed upon the cross. There is no possibility of him abandoning the call. He had an unwavering commitment.

Jesus Christ is the hero par excellence! There is no comparison to him. Even if we welcome in the heros of our imaginations there is no one better! He excels them all. This is worship provoking.

Furthermore, it is humbling. It is humbling because this Jesus, the great hero, was fixed on Calvary like a laser beam, for a sinner like you and me. He was not coming to save the beautiful bride who was a victim of an evil villian. Instead, he is coming to save an ugly bride who loves and delights in evil (Eph. 2.1-3).

His powerful conquering will make his bride beautiful and defeat everything that is evil (Eph. 5.27; 1 Joh 3.8).

Let yourself get wrapped up in this story again and again. It never gets old.

Erik Raymond

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Erik has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond

4 responses to Jesus is Not Your Typical Hero.

  1. It doesn’t seem like a huge sacrifice to me though. I mean, I don’t deny the horrors of crusifixion or that Jesus suffered terribly. But in comparison to millions of other people around the world (who suffer immeasurable cruelties far worse than 3 days of pain and suffering) it really isn’t that huge of a sacrifice or suffering. And this act was to save the ENTIRE world. So, comparatively, to me it seems like an act of minor sacrifice, rather than a “worship provoking” act.
    I’m not sure if that came out right. I hope you can understand what I mean?

    • Questioner – you don’t understand. The physical sufferings of Christ, as horrific and staggering as they were, are nothing compared to the spiritual suffering when the sinless, holy Son of God took the sins of His people upon Him and in so doing accepted the full wrath of God’s punishment for them. He took the eternal hell of every one of His people compressed into a few hours of Calvary.
      HUGE does not begin to describe the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice. It was INFINITELY great.

      No other person, or group of persons has suffered like Christ suffered and it is demeaning to the work of Christ to even compare the two.

      I hope you can understand what I mean.

    • Your question sounds like an honest one to me and one that deserves a respectful answer. I can remember having that same question as a teenager because I didn’t understand that the true cost was far more than suffering the horrendous capital punishment meted out by the Romans. I’m still learning and comprehending what Christ’s death was like— even after almost seventy years, my understanding of the incarnation and redemption is still small and shallow compared to the reality. We use simple terms—even as Scripture does—when referring to His death. Without knowing more of what Scripture says and what is meant by those terms, it is easy to misunderstand or rather to have a shallow understanding. The cost to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is virtually beyond our understanding, even though we can know some things about it. Then there’s what it means to be truly innocent—not just innocent of a crime—but-without-any-sin-innocent and holy. We try to wrap our minds around what it means to be the God-Man and our almost total ignorance of what He left behind, how He humbled Himself (the meaning of which we barely comprehend), and so much more. Wrapped up in our simple words is the cosmic nature, not only of our redemption, but the redemption and restoration of the created world, and the ultimate elimination of evil. That isn’t a deeply theological answer, certainly not systematic, but I encourage you to keep asking questions and studying under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You will be richly rewarded.

  2. Legit question, Questioner, and an accurate assessment. Many, many people have physically suffered more than Christ. Even Peter was crucified upside down. As brutal as the Crucifixion was, the climax of Christ’s suffering was when he cried, “my God, why have you forsaken me?” It was then that Christ was separated from the Father; it was the only time Jesus didn’t address God as Father. The separation was the suffering.