The Mythical Hero. Lancelot, Arthur, armour shining in the sun, fearless and unbeatable.
Somehow we look for the White Knight who will ride in on the mighty steed to save the day. He’s a “Man’s Man”. All men want to be him, and all women want him.
He is relatable to by young and old, he has high position but comes from humble beginnings. Think of the young Arthur, mucking out the stables until his brother needs a sword and the only one is stuck in the stone, so Arthur goes and with no difficulty draws Excalibur from Merlin’s enchantment.
We look for the white knight. We tend to end up with less than we expect. Less of a white knight and more the Black Knight from Monty Python hopping around and completely useless at best.
We look for the Sean Connery “Arthur”, or the Richard Gere “Lancelot”.
Newsflash: The only place you find them is on the movie screen.
Not that heroes don’t exist. Far from it. You meet heroes of the Faith every day, you probably just can’t see it. They tend to look like nothing.
Take this guy I know. He’s a tough guy. And I mean a real tough guy. Works with his hands, manual labour mostly. Thinks with his fists sometimes. It got him into trouble once or twice. He carries a blade most of the time.
He carried it to Gethsemane…
Peter is a white knight, but to look at him? Probably smells of sweat and fish a lot of the time – not a pleasant combination. But he has an amazing gift for compassion. Look at him just after Pentecost. He’s on his way to the temple and a cripple cries out to him. Peter has nothing but the anointing he carries inside him, so that’s what he gives. The cripple dances into the temple.
And Peter probably still smells of fish.
I usually have a knife with me. I’ve carried one most of my life. As a boy I bought my first pocket knife at the age of about seven on holiday in Wales. Just a simple blade folded into a handle that had a picture of a Welsh lady in traditional dress. I used to use it to sharpen my pencil at school. I bought my first multi-blade knife in France on a school trip. A blade, scissors and a gadget for getting stones out of horses hooves.
Because I see so many horses…
These days it’s a larger and heavier blade. It’s a paramedic’s knife – no, I’m not a paramedic – with a single folding blade. In theory it’s for emergency use (or cutting biltong/jerky).
I make no pretense to be a “hero” of any kind, but in a country where there is so much crime at the point of a knife (South Africa), it makes sense to be able to at least make a show. I’m a reasonably big guy, so visual aids are a deterrent. And I really like biltong.
But I’m no Peter. Malchus would probably have been in no danger if it had been me there that day.
But that’s not the point.
We look at “heroes” these days and we see the undefeatable. The protagonist of most movies shakes off the bullet hole in their abdomen and continues to fight unimpeded, unstoppable and infallible.
That’s why the Marvel movies appeal to me. I loved “Civil War”. The characters all demonstrate their humanity. Flawed characters who struggle with internal conflicts but eventually overcome their weaknesses to triumph.
That’s why I love the Bible stories as well.
Yep, you read that right. I enjoy some of the Bible stories in the same way as I enjoy Iron Man.
No, that’s not heresy.
We spend a lot of time as Christians looking at the deity of Jesus. We imbue Him with the focus of the Terminator somehow. We became obsessed with Jesus setting His face as flint towards the Cross, and consequently we miss His Humanity.
Jesus was tempted, just as we are tempted. That means in every way.
Anything you and I struggle with, Jesus had to struggle with. At any point Jesus could have given in to the temptation of sin because of His humanity, just as Adam did.
Adam gave in to the temptation to be “like God” because he didn’t see that he was already like God – created in God’s own image. Perfect. Sinless.
Jesus actually was God in human form, but that human form was as fragile and potentially corruptible as Adam was. He came and as a result of the Cross, Jesus would become ruler of all the kingdoms of the World – at that point handed over to Satan. Satan offers to give Jesus what He came for when he tempts Him in the wilderness. He had the chance to short-cut to the position of power by simply bowing down to Satan.
No need for the Cross.
No need for the agony.
All the power.
The temptation must have been immense. So much power offered for such a little action.
But Jesus the man turned His focus to the real mission – Salvation.
He could have taken the selfish route. He chose the path to the Cross.
Even on the Cross, Jesus has the temptation thrown at Him to prove who He is by coming down from the Cross by His own Power. He could have done. He chose not to.
He chose us.
Jesus is a hero. He overcomes the temptation to give into the desires of the flesh – and they were significant. Instead, He stays true to the path to Salvation of the entire human race – by choice. That’s heroic. Heroism in the purest sense.