Jesus: More than a Hero

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6).

A fellow in my church had a T-shirt with the wording: “Jesus is My Hero”.  A worthy sentiment, I suppose, and meant well.  But it misses the point and undervalues exactly who and what Jesus is.

Technically, perhaps, Jesus is the greatest of hero them all.  Indeed, one translation of Isaiah 9:6 says of Jesus who was to come: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; he will bear the symbol of dominion on his shoulder, and his title will be: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty Hero, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (REB).  The NABRE (Catholic) has the reading as verse 5 instead of verse 6, and calls him “God-Hero” (Isa 9:5). 

The reading in the REB is a weak translation for it should read “The mighty God instead of “Mighty Hero”.  It thus allows the idea of Jesus being a demigod, a being similar to Heracles, a human son of the Greek god Zeus.  While Jesus is sometimes known as the God-man, he is not half god and half man as Heracles was; he is fully God and fully man, his two natures being brought together in a single body of flesh and blood; and as such he is unique.

And unfortunately, while the Catholic Church is strong on the deity of Christ, their translation in the NABRE (God-Hero) could invite identification with the Gnostic demiurge, creator of the universe.  The early Church had huge problems with Gnostic theology so any hint of association of Church and Gnosticism should be avoided.

The risen Jesus identified himself from heaven when he said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). Here we’re shown conclusively  that the translation “Mighty Hero”, and even “God-Hero”, while true as far as they go, are incorrect translations, and feeble in comparison to Jesus being “The Mighty God”, as Isaiah wrote.  For example, did Heracles ever create anything?  His superhuman feats are all feats of strength and physical power; and he was distinctly human with all the character weaknesses of a fallen human being.  Not only that, he had the character flaws and lusts of his divine father, Zeus.

The demiurge, on the other hand, did have creative power, having created the universe.  But he is subordinate to the Supreme Being and is thus not the supreme deity himself; nevertheless he is considered to be the controller of the material world and antagonistic to all that is purely spiritual.  Worse than this, though, and reason enough not to identify him with Jesus, is that he is a malicious evil deity whose name is Yaldabaoth, a name believed to be derived from Aramaic, which means “Son of Chaos”.

Jesus isn’t the same kind of hero as Samson or any other of the Israelite heroes and heroines found in Scripture, some of whom are even honoured by God for their outstanding faith by being named in Hebrews chapter 11. 

He came down from heaven where, as second Person of the Trinity, he was worshipped and adored by myriads of angels, sitting with his Father on the throne of Divine Power, first Person of the Trinity, and became a true human being.  He was sinless, flawless, without blemish; and in this true human body with a true human nature, he did marvellous things.  And, like Samson, who was a type of Christ, Jesus fought against the enemies of God and God’s people and, in death, defeated them.  He stood for us against them, putting his body between them and us, and also between us and the wrath of God against us.  This is just what a Champion is and does.  King David prayed, “Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly” (Ps3:7).  David’s enemies here mentioned were physical, but the real enemies are spiritual beings – devils; and Satan, the Prince of devils; and Jesus fought them in the spiritual realm.  Indeed, he came specifically to destroy Satan and the wicked hosts of darkness.

Jesus is, nonetheless, our hero and our champion, and we see that in passages such as Matthew 12:22-29 where, as the one who overcomes and binds Satan and plunders his house, and in Hebrews 2:14-18 where it says that “through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And them who the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage”, we also see that he is more than a man, more than a super-being, more than a demigod or even a demiurge – he is God himself. 

But he didn’t come to mindlessly break bones and smash skulls, or to fight with sword and spear, like the comic book character Conan the Barbarian.  His enemies – our enemies – are spiritual beings (Eph 6:12); he saves his people by his death for them and in their place, satisfying the wrath of God against them because of their sins (Heb 2:14-15); and he defends them from all dangers (Matt 28:20).  He is the “stronger man” who has bound the strong man (Satan) and ransacked his domain (Matt 12-25-29); he is the One who overcame death by dying (1 Pet 3:18), and then entered hell and proclaimed his victory over his incarcerated enemies (1 Pet 3:19), and who led captivity itself captive (Eph 4:8).  He is “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, [who] hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (Rev 5:5).  It is he who possesses the keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:18).