The 8th century BC introduced the world to two epic and enduring poets: Homer and Isaiah. To this day, the works of both still remain relevant and studied across the globe. Homer gave us the great Iliad, while Isaiah penned his visions and prophecies in incomparable poetic form.
Both write of human tragedies and triumphs and of divine expectations and reactions. Both write of heroes conceived of the union between immortals and mortals. Both heroes were born of women who were foretold of their son’s young demises. Both write of heroes baptized in iconic rivers. Both write of heroes whose existence was for the purpose of defeating the enemy. Both write of heroes who were leaders of men. Homer wrote about Achilles. Isaiah wrote about Jesus.
But there are so many differences.
Achilles was a warrior, born of an illicit relationship between his mother, Thetis, a sea goddess and the mortal king of the Myrmidons, Peleus. He was a fighter. A demi-god who craved to shed others men’s blood, for no other reason than his own glory. He led his men, the Myrmidons on the military field of battle. He felt no need and demonstrated no desire for restraint. He took what he wanted. He conquered and coerced. He was a man filled with an arrogance that led to fits of rage when he perceived slight and injustice towards himself.
Jesus, on the other hand, was a teacher conceived by the Spirit of God in the virgin Mary. He was a good man that was fully God and fully man. His earthly father was an untitled, little-known carpenter, by the name of Joseph. He came into the world for the express purpose of having His own blood shed for the glory of His Father and for the salvation of the world. He led His men, the Disciples, through the villages and mountainsides of Judea and Galilee. He taught them how to live by faith, hope and love. He exercised divine restraint and demonstrated nothing but love for God and others. He loved and forgave. He was a sinless man filled with a humility that led Him to lay down His rights to Himself and lay down His life to save the world.
Homer and Isaiah. Two poets. Two poems. Two heroes. Two worldviews. Two very different ways of living. One from below and one from Above.
The question that I ask myself this Advent season is: Which one am I bearing witness to; Achilles or Jesus?