This Easter, like every Easter for 2,019 years, we are celebrating the most supernatural and breathtaking event in the history of man, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For those of us who have put our faith in Him as our Savior, we are celebrating, not as something that happened long ago with other people, but our celebration is a personal expression of that miracle and how it relates to each of us. Each of us can say “the resurrection is a miracle that has happened to me. It means that Jesus has raised me from death as surely as He raised Lazarus, when he walked out of the tomb. It means that because Jesus rose from the dead, I will rise from the dead. It means that because Jesus conquered death, He has rescued me from death.”
Throughout the Bible, God has talked to His creation through the stories of people’s lives. Imagine the bible without any stories. Just words, and concepts, and principles, instructions, laws, and facts, and ideas. Not stories of real people, real events, real heartaches, real joys, real battles, real victories, real catastrophes and real miracles, lived out by real characters.
God created us to be moved by stories. He knew that someday He would send His Son into the world, who would live a life just like us, and His life would be The Story that revealed God to us, in all His fullness.
J. R. Tolkien, the author of Lord Of The Rings, is considered to be one the greatest storytellers in British history. He was a devout Christian and had a passionate love for the Gospel as a historical fact and as the greatest story ever told. He said many profound things about what stories are and how they affect us as humans.
In a conversation with C. S. Lewis, who was an atheist and materialist at the time, he explains that mythical tales, such as Lord of the Rings, contain all the elements of what humans long for. They picture a world that is supernatural in which they can escape from the natural world as we know it, where death is final, power is in the hands of the wicked, and evil triumphs. In those myths the supernatural is real, love is eternal and overcomes death, and good triumphs over evil. Victory is snatched from the jaws of death, and the hero, through unselfish sacrifice, brings life and resurrection. They are stories of joyous deliverance and happy endings. Human beings crave these stories because deep down we know that, “There is something wrong with this world, good should triumph over evil, and we are not meant to die. Myths point us to a deeper reality that has all the elements that the material world lacks, and that our hearts long for.” J.R. Tolkien
This brilliant Christian storyteller continues, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest epic, because it actually happened. It is supernatural and it is history. Jesus actually lived. He became flesh and lived with us, day to day. He knows our weaknesses and can sympathize with us. Like all heroes, He literally laid down His life for us as He was nailed to a cross. Victory was snatched from the jaws of death by the Resurrection. He defeated our enemy, and Good triumphed over evil. He IS the HERO of History. History is His Story. His sacrificial death and resurrection punched a hole through the concrete wall that stands between life as it is and life as it was meant to be. His story is not one more wonderful story that points to an underlying reality. Rather, Jesus is The Reality to which all other stories point.”
Well written stories have some basic elements is common. They have a beginning, middle, and ending, They are stories of a hero, who is on a journey. As we look at the gospel, in light of what Tolkien said about it being the greatest epic because it actually happened, I thought it would be interesting to see how the elements of the hero’s journey can point us to the reality of Jesus as our Hero.
Here is a list of the elements in the Hero’s Journey.
1. The ordinary world: In the case of Jesus, our hero, His ordinary world was Heaven. (John 1:1)
2. Catastrophe: The Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)
3. The Hero’s Call: Jesus received the call from His Father to leave his heavenly home and come to earth in order destroy evil and rescue His people from the catastrophe. (John 17:1-15)
4. Supernatural aid: Jesus came to earth by being born of a virgin. (Matthew 1:23)
5. Mentor: The Holy Spirit, descended like a dove, and rested on Him. (Matthew 3:16)
6. Tests, allies, and enemies: The temptation in the wilderness, His disciples and followers, the religious leaders. (Matthew 4:1-11)
7. The Inmost Cave: The garden of Gethsemane, surrendering His will to His Father. (Matthew 26:36-39)
8. The All Is Lost Moment: His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. (Matthew 26:47- Matthew 27:55)
9. The Resurrection and Redemption: Rises from the dead, and redeems mankind from the catastrophe. (Luke 24:1-9)
10. The Return and Reward: He ascends to Heaven, glorified, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and His reward is us, His Bride. (Luke 24:50-53)
As we ponder the idea of the Hero’s Journey, may we be blessed as we behold Jesus, coming to earth to walk that journey in reality, in history, and in eternity. He is The One, who left His heavenly home, to endure the mocking and hatred of us, His creatures, to heal the broken-hearted and bind up our wounds, to be despised and rejected, so that He could conquer Satan and death in an historical time and place. He is the Divine Hero who laid down His life as a sacrifice so that we could live forever with Him. His eternal Home is now our home. His Father is our Father. His reward is our reward.
The Gospel is the greatest true story in the world. It is the story of the victory of deliverance, and the joy of a happy ending that will last forever. It is the story of a love that is eternal. It is the story of good triumphing over evil, and light dispelling darkness. It is the story of a hero, whose sacrifice brings life out of certain death.
This Easter, we celebrate the truth of the Gospel, the historical event of the Resurrection, and the love of our Savior, Jesus, the Hero of humanity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1: 1-5, 14
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