Hidden hero

In the blockbuster movie Gladiator, Maximus is a Roman General betrayed by Caesar’s son Commodus. Reduced to slavery Maximus fights to survive and eventually comes face to face with Commodus once more at the Colosseum in Rome. He has worn a mask to fight but Commodus commands him to reveal his identity. Maximus turns, removes his helmet, and declares ‘I am Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix legions and loyal servant to the true Emperor Marcus Aurelius’. Commodus had been told that Maximus was dead so to say that the wind is taken out of his sails would be an understatement.

Some similarity then with the life of Jesus. A poor carpenter-turned-preacher from the backwater that was Nazareth Jesus was dismissed by those who were sure they had authority over him. Disturbed by the challenge he presented they had him put to death. But like Commodus their failure to recognise who they were dealing with became their downfall. This was not a hero who would die easily.

We too must be careful not to underestimate or domesticate this Jesus. Carpenter, yes. Preacher, yes. Dead, no. King of kings and Lord of lords, yes and yes again.

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