Recently, I was in Barnes and Noble browsing the latest books on display. It was depressing. Moral decay is evident just by looking at the books that this generation is reading. Bestsellers are competing with each other to peddle perversion, deceit, and violence. Discouraged by the available selection, I moved on to the “Christian” section, hoping to find solace there. As I was looking around, one book captured my attention. It was based upon an obscure verse from the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel.
“20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.” – 2 Samuel 23: 20 (NLT)
Benaiah, the lion slayer! Superhuman prowess! He is then summoned to become King David’s chief bodyguard, and eventually ends up becoming the commander-in-chief of Israel’s army under King Solomon.
Mark Batterson, the author of this book, tells the true account of Benaiah; along with the long list of other mighty men of David and their exploits. The basic premise of this book is that we as Christians, need the faith and courage to identify, chase, and catch those 500-pound dreams in our lives.
In the ’80s, growing up in India as a young boy, I was scared of the stray dogs on the streets. While walking down those streets, I’ve been chased multiple times by dogs that could sense my fear from a mile away. Forget chasing a 500-pound lion! Like most people, chasing a lion would be the last problem I would ever face. And yet, I also understand the author’s perspective on faith. We all need to have faith to tackle problems bigger than ourselves because we serve a mighty God.
There is an even greater lion slayer; our Lord, Jesus Christ
Is there more to this biblical account than just a lesson in having more faith? As I walked out of the bookstore, I was thinking about this and talking with my family about Benaiah. Slowly but surely, it became evident to me that there is an even greater lion slayer; our Lord, Jesus Christ. Parallels between Benaiah’s heroic account and our Lord’s struggle with Satan on the cross became more vivid to me. Let me try to illustrate these parallels with scripture.
Jesus descended to earth.
We see in John 3:13 that Jesus descended from Heaven. He voluntarily and bravely gave up His divine rights to step into this world, to redeem us; fallen, sinful, and rebellious humans.
“Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form” – Philippians 2:7 (NLT)
Right from the outset, Jesus knew that a battle was brewing, and it was coming soon. He did not flinch. He steamed full speed ahead towards that brutal, gory battle. Bravely, He looked forward to fully defeating the enemy of our souls to establish His Father’s rule on earth, as in Heaven.
Jesus fought the lion, alone.
And then, the hour came. A dark day.
“‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” – Luke 22:42-44 (NLT)
With His internal anguish spilling out as drops of blood, Jesus boldly states, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Talk about courage in the face of what was about to unravel.
All His disciples left Him and fled into the night. He had no one to encourage or to help him. Betrayed. Mocked. Scourged. Bruised. Wounded. Nailed to the cross. Separated from His Holy Father, Who could not look at the sin He was carrying on our behalf. Alone, single, and unaided, He went down into the pit and fought that prowling lion; our great enemy, the Devil.
Jesus was Victorious.
“In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” – Colossians 2:15 (NLT)
He fought bravely and won. Oh, what a sight that must have been to behold! He then ascends to the Father as a victorious Son of Man. As written in Daniel 7:14, Jesus is given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is now eternal and His kingdom shall never be destroyed.
Indeed, Jesus is our greater Benaiah! Let us look to Him to help us overcome sin and sorrows in our lives. He is Faithful and True, always willing to help us with our burdens. He truly cares for us.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NLT)