For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 (NRSV)
Heroes. We all have them, as children and as adults. We aspire to be like them.
Our heroes include people who succeed against long odds, overcome massive evil and suffering, possess extraordinary wisdom, exhibit amazing courage in the face of terrible, scary situations, and rise to the top as the “cream” in their fields. They are those who amass fortunes or become legends in their own time.
On Palm Sunday, a cheering crowd greeted Jesus as a hero with joyful shouts of “Hosanna!” But as the week wore on, it became apparent that Jesus was not the military hero or political leader they had expected and hoped would overturn Roman rule and restore Israel as free nation. And they turned against Jesus.
Yet, Jesus remains the greatest hero—and more—in God’s drama of salvation and our stories of life. Why? Because Jesus was committed to and determined to stick to God’s plan. It was not easy. It was marked with pain, suffering and ultimate sacrifice.
Jesus calls each of us to be a hero of faith, not to gain public recognition or to hear our names in the headlines and read them in the society pages. “Who me, a hero?” we ask. But Jesus gives himself as the model of a “hero.”
In the grace of Jesus, heroes are ordinary people who see a need and meet it, even though they could walk away. With a selfless love they make sacrifices to care for others without an obligation to do so, a need for reward or public recognition, or an expectation of something in return.
Jesus never stopped trusting or worshipping God. And because Jesus did not, Easter came to a ragtag group of Disciples and early followers who became heroes of their time. Easter is coming for us too to give us the opportunity to become heroes of the faith to the glory of God.