It is true to say that heroes are as old as dirt. The earliest remaining stories from human antiquity are of heroic figures (Greek mythology, etc.)
A man named Joseph Campbell has written a book on this subject that talks about the concept of the “monomyth,” defined as the general framework providing a description of the significant elements of the world’s mythology. In a single sentence from his book “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” he says, “The hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” (p. 30)
Do you see what Campbell is saying? He is postulating that all stories have the same common framework or elements, particularly as regards the “hero” figure. Though I’ve not read more than excerpts from his book, I’d bet that he would say the story of the Bible is just another similar mythical story of antiquity… only the names and faces are different. Here is another paragraph…
“The mythological hero, setting forth from his common day hut or castle, is lured, carried away, or else voluntarily proceeds, to the threshold of adventure. There he encounters a shadowy presence that guards the passage. The hero may defeat or conciliate this power and go alive into the kingdom of the dark (brother-battle, dragon-battle; offering, charm), or be slain by the Opponent and descend in death (dismemberment, crucifixion). Beyond the threshold, then, the hero journeys through a world of unfamiliar yet strangely intimate forces, some of which severely threaten him (tests), some of which give magical aid (helpers). When he arrives at the nadir of the mythological round, he undergoes a supreme ordeal and gains his reward. … The final work is that of the return. If the powers have blessed the hero, he now sets forth under their protection (emissary); if not, he flees and is pursued (transformation flight, obstacle flight). At the return threshold the transcendental powers must remain behind; the hero re-emerges from the kingdom of dread (return, resurrection). The boon that he brings restores the world (elixir).”
As we have often shared in varied sermon series about the overarching story of the Bible, there indeed is a common thread between all grand stories. And there is a good reason for that thread – all stories borrow from THE STORY that God is writing … a story that features Jesus Christ as The Hero. The biblical story is not just another tale, nor even just the greatest of tales; it is THE story of stories from which all others borrow without realization.
So, who has the best hero? We could talk a lot about Zeus or Hercules or whomever. But that is not what we are about. And besides that, when they get set alongside Jesus Christ, they really are a bunch of little “girlie-guys.” Look at how Paul talks about a real hero…
COL 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
While looking at this passage, we may by observation note the following list of statements about Jesus Christ…
- He is the one who has made possible the redemption of all people from the death sentence of sin.
- When you look at Jesus, you see a visible representation of the invisible person of God.
- He is supreme over all creation in authority and importance (that is the idea of firstborn – it is a word of rank, not order of accomplishment).
- He is the creator! He made all things and all powers wherever they be, or however impressed they are with themselves.
- He is before, above, and beyond all things… and is the glue that holds all things together.
- He is the head of the church… the body of those who inherit everything with him.
- He is the first to rise from death and claim that victory for himself and others.
- God is very happy to have the sum fullness of all that defines God to exist in Christ in bodily form.
- It is through Jesus and His accomplishments on the cross that all the craziness ruining a perfect, created order is reconciled again forevermore.
Case closed! No other hero is in the same league!
Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him– 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.