In this episode, we discover Jesus as the ultimate hero of our story and every story. He is the main character and the center around which the plot gravitates. Amazingly, Jesus invites us to be a part of His story, to share in His Kingdom and His glory. We are drawn to great tales because we see ourselves as participants in a meaningful adventure. Participating in God’s Kingdom involves overcoming evil, pursuing vision, and making wise choices with the narrative entrusted to us.
Death entered the world
Meanwhile, we are in a scary forest. You know, the first episode of the enemy and the avenger bringing death into the world was the apple in the Garden. (We don’t know it was an apple. It’s fruit.) The poisoned apple. Eve ate it. Adam ate it. And they had a death. The death that day was exile.
You know, Socrates was given the choice of hemlock or exile. He chose hemlock because to be banished from community with his state that he had served was worse than just not existing anymore.
Lots of other deaths happened that day. There was the death of harmony between Adam and Eve. There was the death of relationship, the fellowship between God and Adam and Eve. There was a break in harmony between man and animals, humanity and animals. God had to kill a beast to get them some clothes.
The worst of all deaths was the division that happened inside of Adam where there were three parties standing in the conversation, and God said, “What happened here?” and Adam’s answer was, “The woman who you gave to me deceived me.” So there’s three possible parties of responsibility, and Adam blamed the two that weren’t him, and this internal self-deception death is something that plagues us ever since.
And, of course, the clock started on their physical death as well. Death entered the world.
The enemy was the agent of death entering the world, but God’s notion is that that will be redeemed. Adam was supposed to choose to rule the earth in perfect harmony with God, with the creation. He fell.
Let’s go back to Hebrews 2. The order that God has ordained is for humanity to be the rulers of the world, but again in verse 8.
But now we do not yet see all things put under humanity.
It’s not as it’s supposed to be. We have tyrants and murderers and groups of people that want to chop off other people’s heads because they don’t agree with them and war and pestilence. That’s what we have in our world today.
Jesus is the great hero of the story
But here’s what we do see. Verse 9. But we see Jesus—So we don’t see the world in perfect harmony. What do we see?
We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels—
Jesus became man for the suffering of death, and he was crowned with glory and honor. Jesus has already been installed on the throne, just not here physically yet. But it’s happened. It’s already happened in heaven.
that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Now look at this, verse 10. For it was fitting for Him—Jesus—for whom are all things and by whom are all thing—he’s the author, he’s the fulfillment, he’s the hero of our story. But in bringing many sons to glory—what was the glory? To rule the earth.—to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
And the point of Hebrews—which is a book written to believers, clearly—the point of Hebrews is Jesus is the great hero of all creation. Jesus has already ascended to this throne that God ordained for us. This is our fulfillment!
We can share his glory
Don’t you have a longing to be somebody and do something that you never can quite fill? If you don’t, you probably need to stop taking whatever it is you’re taking because that’s the way we’re made.
And what that longing is is to be a part of something great that is total harmony and fulfillment. That’s how we get our ultimate fulfillment.
And Jesus is already sitting there saying, “Come on! Come on and sit with me!”
Seven churches of Revelation, the church of Laodicea, the seventh one, Jesus says To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
See Jesus was an overcomer. Jesus didn’t overcome by accepting Jesus into his heart. Jesus overcame because he endured temptation. He endured the pain and agony that was standing between him and obedience, even to death on the cross. It’s greatness.
So what does Jesus want us to do? He wants us to follow him. He wants many sons to glory.
But look at 2 Timothy 2:11:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
And we’ll have a whole segment here on the amazing grace of God, which is something that cannot be earned, and it cannot be lost. If we’re born in Christ, it’s nothing we can lose.
What’s at stake
However, there is something we can lose because verse 12 says
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
See, if we die with him, we shall live with him. That’s unconditional. But if we want to reign with him, that’s conditional; and that requires endurance. And what is at stake is the fulfillment of who God made us to be.
Now, there will be joy in heaven. Again, we’ll have a whole session on this too. This is just an overview. There will be joy in heaven for all. Everyone’s cup will be full; but not everybody will have the same sized cup. And the size of our cup is largely what we’re determining in this life.
This is a pastor, G. H. Lang, that made a comment about this Hebrews passage; and he says,
In the purpose of God, the inhabited world of the future has not been put under the control of angels but of men. At present, God is selecting from it the company that are to rule the universe, superseding the existing government. He is preparing for a complete reorganizing of his entire empire and is giving to these future rulers the severe training—you ever feel like life is a severe training? It’s because it is—the severe training which is indispensable to fitting them for such responsible duties and high dignities. There’s manifest wisdom in a great leader first training a body of efficient subordinates before seeking to reorganize society at large.
And what is it that Jesus did to qualify himself to be elevated above every name? Became the servant of all. God doesn’t like tyrants. That’s what Satan wanted to be. What God wants is servants. And what he’s looking for is, who will serve? Even when the service doesn’t seem reasonable or feasible. Who will serve? That’s who I want to run my universe.
See, he’s already the captain of our salvation. In Hebrews the salvation we’re talking about predominantly is the salvation from futility of living in sin and following the evil stepmother’s way of doing things.
The Lord of the Rings
Another great epic tale that we can look at for correlation is The Lord of the Rings, probably my favorite. I like Snow White; but, you know, I never had any princess gear. I know that in God’s economy we’ll all play the female role in that we are the bride. We’re the responders, and I embrace that. But, you know, the idea of being a king is more appealing to me as a male.
But The Lord of the Rings doesn’t start with the King. It starts with the hobbits. And in a real way we are all hobbits.
What is a hobbit? It’s a diminutive creature who has hairy feet and eats six or seven meals a day and seeks comfort and fellowship among one another above all; and I can identify with that. Hobbits, as a general rule, don’t like adventure. They don’t like change. They don’t like trouble.
And into this hobbit world, these hobbits named Bilbo and Frodo, into their world comes crashing in this wizard, Gandalf, who asks them to save the world and go on an adventure that’s basically impossible and destroy the Ring of Power because Sauron, the antagonist, in this tale has immense power, and he’s concentrated it in this ring; but he’s lost the ring, and now he’s looking for it, and it can only be destroyed by going back to the place in which was forged Mount Doom; and everybody knows it’s impossible, but it has to be attempted.
So what we’re going to do is give this quest to the weakest of all the creatures, the most unlikely suspect of all, a hobbit.
But to accompany him on the way is Aragorn, and Aragorn—now, Aragorn, he’s quite a character. His whole family are the rightful kings of the biggest city, Gondor; but right now, there are stewards that are ruling Gondor; and even though he knows he’s the king—Aragorn—it’s not his time to yet make himself known, to become king in reality. He’s just king spiritually now.
So what does he do? Well, he spends most of his time chasing dragons and trolls on the border of the shire to keep the shire safe. So you would think he’d be a great hero within the shire, but when he goes into the shire to get a bite to eat or something, the hobbits look at him very suspiciously because he’s kind of this foreboding scary character, and they’re not too sure about him. They call him Strider. He’s a little scary.
Does it bother Aragorn that he’s serving and keeping them safe, and they don’t even appreciate it? Bah. He doesn’t care in the least. Why? He’s the king. That’s what kings do. Kings are kingly. He risked death for these people, daily. He didn’t care about dying. No big deal.
On the other hand, there is something he is afraid of, deathly afraid of: losing his honor. Now that’s unthinkable. He would never do that! Not in a million years! He would never say something and not follow through and do it. He would never shrink from a challenge that is his lot.
Well, that’s who we want to be like. And Aragorn’s a picture of us too. Just like Snow White is the rightful heir, but it’s not her time to ascend the throne, Aragorn’s the rightful heir, but he’s waiting for the proper time and the proper season to ascend the throne. And in his case, it’s prophetic when he will ascend the throne.
There’s a reason why we like these tales. It’s about us. And we see ourselves in these heroes and heroines because that’s what we’re supposed to be. And, yet, it seems to us as though what we do isn’t that important, and we’ll delve into this in great depth because it turns out that the illustration Jesus used to make sure we understood this point, the illustration Jesus used of something that’s great is to serve children and to give cold water in his name. Those are the actions of greatness that Jesus wanted us to understand.
So most of this has to do with perspective, the perspective we take about our life, about what matters in life, and about what life’s about: severe training.
Well, severe training. Who wants severe training? Does anybody want severe training? Olympic athletes want severe training. Doctors want severe training. It’s necessary to get where you want to go.
Now does that mean there’s never supposed to be any joy along the way? Oh, of course not! Jesus said, “My joy may remain in you in that your joy may be full.” But the joy is something we choose. James said, “Choose joy, choose happiness, when you encounter various trials,” because these trials are there to make you great. That’s what they’re there for.
Almost everybody hates hard practice, but there’s a joy in understanding this is getting me to my goal.
“Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 6.
In Revelation 1:5-6, To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
He has made us kings and priests. That is our role in the play that God has written. And he’s written this role for each one of us, specifically for us, in the works he prepared beforehand for each one of us. It’s a once-in-an-existence opportunity.
When we get to heaven, we’re going to see God and then we’re going to know by sight. And we’re going to know by sight for the whole rest of our existence. But in this time is our once-in-an-existence opportunity to know God and follow him by faith.
And as we’ll be delving into over the coming episodes, there’s something about that that we vastly under appreciate that is actually an enormous opportunity that we don’t want to miss out on one iota.
Conclusion: Life really matters
What’s the bottom line of all this? Life really matters. Your life has been crafted for you just the way God intended it. Even if you have thrown away past opportunities, you have today’s opportunities. And greatness is something that God will decide what it is. Cups of cold water in his name, interacting with children, those are the examples he gave.
And what the world is telling us is all coming from the evil stepmother that’s been on death and usurping our proper position, stealing our joy.
Is their comfort all this? Yes! But the comfort’s not in circumstances. God seeks to be our comfort.
It’s an epic tale. It’s an adventure. It’s a stunning opportunity to do something great for every one of us. And it’s only going to last two minutes.
We interviewed the person that was supervising this two-minute ride at Disneyland, and he estimated (after our grandkids got off crying), and I asked him, “What percentage of the kids come off of this ride crying?”
He said, “Oh about half.”
Well that’s it. That’s it. Do we have the maturity to understand what our ride’s about and embrace it and enjoy it? Or are we just going to cry and ask our mom if we can go to the exit and wait for everybody else to get off? That’s an option. That’s not the one we want to take.