I have always been a John Wayne fan. My father was a John Wayne fan. The man was an American hero. He was and is an icon. When he came on TV you stopped everything to watch this giant of a man “whoop-up-on” the bad guys. Heroes like John Wayne, though, aren’t supposed to die in real life and certainly not in a movie.
Over the weekend I watched again Wayne’s last movie, “The Shootist” (1976). Wayne plays an aging gunfighter named John Bernard Books who discovers he has cancer. Not wanting to experience the agony of a prolonged and painful death, he plans his own death. In his final two months he carefully plots out his final gun battle that will allow him to settle scores with a few old enemies, while at the same time finds him dying in his “trade” of a notorious shootist or a gunfighter.
Wayne’s final gunfight always brings me to the edge of my seat. Every time I watch “Shootist” I expect a different outcome, but it always ends the same. While he “gets” all the bad guys, he himself is killed just as he planned it. My eyes always become moist when I see the young lad, played by Ron Howard, who idolized the gunfighter, cover the face of the deceased Books with a coat. Heroes aren’t supposed to die, and especially not John Wayne.
We are living in a day when there is a lack of heroes. Heroes are seemingly vanishing from the American landscape. Ones we label as fitting the bill quickly come and go. Others appear for awhile then sink beneath the waves of moral failure and scandal. Where can I find a true hero in the hour in which we live?
Found in the pages of the Bible I find a Hero who came and did battle with sin, death and the devil. Jesus left heaven’s glory, took on the form of a man, and went toe to toe with everything life and the Evil One could throw at Him. Nailed to the cross it looked as if evil and death had won. However, on the third day heaven’s Hero arose from the grave like the Mighty Champion He is. His victory was not just for Himself but was for all who embrace Him as their Hero. By faith in Him His victory becomes my victory; our victory!
Because my Hero, Jesus Christ, overcame sin, death, and the devil we, too, can. He shares His triumph with us. I find in Christ an eternal Hero. He will never let me down, nor will death ever rob Him from me. Do you know Him today? If not, look to Him now. He is all the Hero you will ever need.