Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

Was Jesus a hero?



Jesus carries a lot of labels in our conventional theology- Son of God, Redeemer, Emmanuel, Savior, the Word. However, I rarely if ever hear someone suggest that Jesus is a hero. I guess that is because Jesus does not quite measure up to our culture's normal depiction of a hero. That picture almost always involves a warrior type male who meets and defeats evil men by the use of force and violence. That is just not the way Jesus appears in the biblical accounts. He is occasionally angry but for the most part he preaches and mirrors extreme forbearance and humility, hardly the characteristics of our typical Hollywood style heroic figure. Forbearance and humility are more readily associated culturally with weakness and cowardice. Heroes are assertive and impatient. They are men of action, not deliberators and persuaders.


Again, Jesus intimately associates himself with the concept of divine love. Our traditional heroes may be lovers too, but their love is sharply focused on those who deserve it. They are quick to pass judgment and exact punishment on those they see as evil. Occasionally, an heroic figure may be merciful, but if the object of that mercy then commits another crime, the hero quickly becomes a dupe, a fool, an object of ridicule. If one wants to retain the mantle of traditional heroism, mercy is a bad idea.


Given all that encompasses our normal definition of a hero, it becomes easy to see why Jesus does not qualify. In many respects he is the antithesis of our concept of heroism.


Ironically, one could easily conclude that the role of savior is less demanding than that of hero. Saviors can operate without risk to themselves. Real heroes never escape personal risk. Self sacrifice is the essence of heroism. Rescuers. however, may effect a rescue in ways which do not endanger themselves. When the rescuer does expose himself to personal risk, then the rescue becomes heroic, but that is not always the case.


As one who taught and exhibited self sacrifice, Jesus was a classical hero in my estimation. Jesus as the human hero serves as a powerful model for us. Jesus, the perfect savior from divine wrath, is too exalted and superhuman to be emulated. When I need a role model, give me a flawed but heroic human.