Have you ever wondered why we love old stories that pluck noble people from obscurity, then place them into positions of great influence? Great stories (whether true or fiction) revolve around this simple premise: the virtuous one doesn't seek to seat himself in power, but waits for an Unseen authority to choose him or her for a higher purpose.
This basic storyline is replete throughout literature and film:
- The simple but honest orphan boy Arthur is the sole humble character in the kingdom able to extract Excalibur from the Stone.
- Adventure-avoiding, pint-sized Hobbits – Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry – face-down herculean evil to vanquish a ruthless ring and its seeker, while delivering Middle-earth from unmitigated hell.
- An honorable but imprisoned young boy named Harry, with no credentials except a lightning-bolt scar, is chosen by fate to be the Magical world's only hope to thwart the greatest evil of all time: he-who-must-not-be-named. He will accomplish this ultimate mission by laying down his life in death.
- A frightened girl named Dorothy, from an obscure farm in Kansas, wearing ruby-red slippers and befriending simple-minded, heartless, and cowardly travelers – defeats a wicked witch and her menacing monkeys, to rescue a land called Oz.
Not only is this theme embedded in recent literature, it is as old as time itself. Consider these much older, true stories:
- Two nobodies – Mordecai and Esther – from society's lower caste pursue honorable, truthful lives, while their nemesis – Haman – climbs over others to ascend the political ladder. In a plot-twist worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, Mordecai and Esther are elevated to positions of highest authority, while Haman is hung from gallows he fashioned to execute Mordecai.
- An unremarkable boy, the youngest of eight sons, faithfully tends his father's sheep in night-shift obscurity. Then one day out of the blue, a prophet stops by the homestead and after examining all his brothers, chooses young boy David to be the next king of Israel. This young lad will defeat a giant with a slingshot, rescuing the nation of Israel.
- An ostracized 'nobody' named Ruth – widowed, apparently infertile, from a despised gypsy-like community – accompanies and cares for her widowed mother-in-law Naomi ... meets a sacrificial man of character, and together birth and raise a boy who would become grandfather to King David, and ancestor of Jesus Christ.
- A baby, born in a dark corner of a hidden hamlet, to poor parents who immediately migrated to Egypt, then returned to settle in an obscure town nicknamed "Despised" (Nazareth), grew up out of the limelight as a blue-collar worker. He began to teach and preach about a hidden "kingdom," and people were drawn to him ... yet every time they attempted to elevate his brand, he would retreat into the shadows of anonymity. Backpedal from fame. Avoid the spotlight. Hide while others sought power.
We love each of these stories because within them, we see a glimpse of the greatest story of all time – a true story of a Rescuer who came incognito, eschewed pomp and position, exchanged his life so unworthy villains could live. Then, if that wasn't enough, he accomplished the unthinkable. He wrestled death to the ground and killed it. And there is a rumor flitting about ... a word on the air ... that this Hero is planning a return, to vanquish for eternity all evil and danger.
His name is Jesus.