A True Hero

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I caught a bit of a news report this morning out of New York. A man was trying to escape from one of the upper floors of a burning building. To jump would have been suicidal; to stay wasn’t an option. Neighbours saw the dilemma and found a ladder that they could lay alongside the window. I didn’t catch exactly what one rescuer did but the reporter said that he risked his life to help the man in the window to safety. A heroic deed.

When some people look at Jesus’ life, or more specifically, his death, they see no hero. They see weakness, foolishness, and helplessness. The Pharisees taunted Him as He hung on the cross. “If you are God,” they said, “come down and save yourself.”

Here in John 10, Jesus sets the record straight. It was His choice, and His choice alone, to sacrifice Himself. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17, 18).

The word “hero” has come to mean many things—including a sandwich! But its principal meanings today are:

“1 brave person, brave man/woman, man/woman of courage, man/woman of the hour, lionheart, warrior, knight; champion, victor, conqueror. ANTONYMS coward, loser.
2 a football hero: star, superstar, megastar, idol, celebrity, luminary; ideal, paragon, shining example, demigod; favorite, darling; informal celeb. ANTONYMS unknown, nobody.
3 the hero of the film: (male) protagonist, principal (male) character, principal (male) role, main character, title character, starring role, star part; (male) lead, lead actor, leading man. ANTONYMS villain, supporting character, supporting role.”

Originally, a word comes from Greek mythology and described a demigod: “the son or daughter from one immortal and one mortal parent, an example would be Heracles, son of the mortal queen Alcmene and the god Zeus.”

Later the word came to represent a male (hero) or female (heroine) , who, “in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.”

Few people consider Jesus as a hero. Most would consider Him a victim. The passage from John helps to understand that the LORD was no victim. Rather, He was the essence, the heart of heroism.

Voluntarily He gave up His life to give us ours.

That helpless, doomed man in the burning building in New York acknowledged the heroism of his rescuer by accepting the help offered. Oh that men would accept Christ's offer of rescue from the burning wreck of their lives!

I was interested in the last part of the definition of a hero: “This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.” We have no idea about the character of the man in New York who risked his life to save a neighbour. But we do know that Jesus not only risked His life, but GAVE that life. He was also the perfect example of the “moral excellence” mentioned in the definition.

If anyone should be called a hero, it is Him. Celebrate your true hero today.


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