Who’s Your Hero?
The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. Luke 23:10-11
Who’s your hero? During this season of March Madness (the USA’s national collegiate championship series), you might choose basketball players doing heroic deeds on the court—especially the one who sinks a winning basket at the last second.
If I asked you to name your favorite Bible hero, you might pick one from the list of faithful men and women recorded in Hebrews 11–Noah (11:7), Abraham and Sarah (11:8-12,17-19) and Moses (24-28), along with many others.
What about Herod? You’ve probably heard that name many times because it’s the surname of a royal family mentioned many times in the New Testament. Ironically, Herod means “heroic.” But the biblical Herods were heinous, not heroic. Herod the Great murdered hundreds of babies in Bethlehem, trying to kill the newborn Jesus because the magi called him “the King of the Jews.” Herod had taken that title for himself* (Matthew 2:1-18). Was Herod the Great heroic?
His son Herod Antipas arrested John the Baptist when he admonished Herod for taking his brother’s wife. Herod had wanted to kill John then, but he was afraid of the people because they considered John a prophet (Matthew 14:3-5). Later Herod had John killed because of a rash promise given to the daughter of Herodias when she danced for his dinner guests (Matthew 14:6-11). Was Herod Antipas heroic?
When Pilate learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Jesus to him for questioning. Herod, probably afraid of the chief priests and teachers of the law who vehemently accused Jesus, did nothing to save him. Was that heroic?
On the other hand, the name Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves” (Matthew 1:21 and Luke 2:21). Motivated by love, Jesus gave his life for others. Jesus didn’t defend himself when falsely accused. He didn’t fear what others thought. He bore shame and ridicule in order to finish the work his Father had sent him to do (John 3:16). Now that’s heroic.
Hymn writer Philip Paul Bliss wrote the following description of his hero:
“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Is this Savior your hero?
Read Hebrews 11:1-39. According to verse 39, why were these men and women “heroes” in God’s eyes? How can we become “heroes” in God’s eyes?
Read Matthew 2:2 and John 19:19-22. Like bookends, what title for Jesus is given both at his birth and his death? What title do you give Jesus?
According to Matthew 14:1-2 and Luke 23:8-9, why did Herod want to see Jesus? Why didn’t Jesus perform a miracle for him? What attracts you to Jesus? What He does or Who He is?
To see the rest of Bliss’ hymn lyrics see www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/h/a/halwasav.htm.
Nancy J. Baker
* Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for Hērōdēs (Strong’s 2264)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 28 Mar 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm? strongs=G2264 >