When it comes to the heroic, I like to dream. I am a big fan of action adventures where the hero overcomes insurmountable odds to save the day. I like to think I would have the courage to choose to be a hero. This week's Gospel focuses on a hero's choice.
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:35-43
Jesus chose a difficult path. He did so again and again. In what appears to be the end of Jesus' journey He hung dying on the cross. Some of those present sneered, jeered and reviled Jesus. They looked upon Him as a failure, taunting His inability to save Himself. It appears that the hero has lost. But the hero knows what others don't. He knows that there is a greater purpose in His suffering and dying. The hero has made a choice to live and die for others. Is there anything more courageous and noble?
As we gaze back in time upon the crucifixion we have the ability to understand Jesus' noble purpose. We understand the true meaning of the crown of thorns that was meant to mock and torture Jesus.
Jesus accepted that crown. In so doing, our "hero" chose not to save Himself but to save you and me. Here is the hard part. When it comes to following this hero, The King of the Jews, our purpose must be bigger than ourselves. We must trust God to lead us. Our sense of purpose must be for His Kingdom. Will you choose to follow His path? It is easier said than done. In my devotional this morning was this line by Oswald Chambers, "By any road Lord, and at any cost." That is the meaning of being a hero for Christ.