(Photo by Selma Komisky)
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Reasons For ‘Oo-De-Lallying’
By Sarah Komisky
Robin Hood is seriously underrated. Growing up, I loved this Disney re-telling of a legendary tale filled with 70’s nostalgia, medieval adventure, comedy, inhabitants of Nottingham made up of animal friends, a honky-tonk song called “Oo-De-Lally” that is definitely the jam, and a forest troubadour festival you can’t go wrong with. But there was also the swashbuckling hero who lives in a forest, shoots with a bow and arrow, and saves Maid Marian from the evil Prince John. It was colorful. Imaginative. Exciting! As an adult, I still loves these aspects, but I also connect with the character’s passion, bravery, compassion for the poor and needy, reverence for the church, ability to take risks for the betterment of others, and his aim to take a stand for what’s right, campaigning for justice. However, like every hero, his tragic flaw is that he goes about seeking justice the wrong way.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are lot of good moments. Appealingly, he risks all for love, displays chivalry, and fights for Maid Marian, professing his love even if it meant his potential death. He also exposes the darkness of Prince John’s tyranny as a false heir to the throne and refuses to follow his wicked ways shouting, “Long live King Richard!” – the true king of Nottingham. He also courageously takes on Prince John’s regime in a sword fight and inspires others in bravery to fight alongside him. Robin saves those in jeopardy like Tagalong, Skippy the rabbit’s little sister who is almost snatched by Prince John’s guards. Clearly, he consistently displays a heart for the people and is no doubt committed to them. No wonder everyone cheers when he rides off in a carriage married to Maid Marian in the end. I mean the guy is likeable, right?
Well, here’s where it goes wrong. According to legend and the Disney film, Robin Hood is a revolutionary and an outlaw who goes against the system. In the animated film, his crusade is against the efforts of the greedy Prince John who oppresses and excessively taxes citizens along with Sir Hiss and the hard-hearted Sheriff of Nottingham who executed his tyranny as a personal collector. Enter Robin Hood along with his sidekick Little John who steals back from the rich to give to the poor. As the story continues, Prince John triples taxes, has money collected (even from the poor box), imprisons those who cannot pay (including Friar Tuck), and devises new schemes to entrap Robin Hood. Through it all, Robin Hood and Little John continues to use disguise, deceit, and guile to release the prisoners and steal back the money including taxes that he sneakingly retrieves by breaking into Prince John’s palace. In a scene when little Skippy gets his single farthing taken away on his birthday by the Sheriff, Robin Hood saves the day and gives back money that was lost. Mama bunny tells Robin Hood, “You’ve risked so much to keep our hopes alive – bless you” to which he replies, “Someday there will be happiness again in Nottingham.”
I think that’s what we all want – hope. Hope in the darkness. Hope that good will triumph over evil. Hope that restoration will occur. Now, we don’t live in Nottingham, but we all know that injustice is a reality in this world. The human response is, stand up! Fight! Get even! Do something! The problem is when we fight injustice with injustice. Stealing. Deceiving. Breaking and entering. Yeah, that’s not the answer. And sometimes, the answer looks crazy to others.
Jesus was a lot like Robin Hood in that he also stood up for injustice, was an adventurer, boldly rebuked the pharisees who oppressed and lorded over the Jewish people, he healed the sick, befriended the outcasts, and didn’t send away kids when they naturally flocked to him. He also was chivalrous and elevated women like no other, giving them an opportunity for adventure to do ministry alongside him.
The Jews under Roman tyranny and religious oppression thought He was the solution to overthrow the government. Young. Famous. Yep, Jesus looked like the next political leader in their eyes. But Jesus didn’t do what they expected and he did not deal with injustice the way they wanted. In Luke 19, Jesus at this great uproar of praise called the “Triumphal Entry” (otherwise known as Palm Sunday) is seen weeping. What? Here’s why. Jesus says, “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.” According to an article by Greg Laurie, Jesus looked ahead 40 years and saw the destruction that would come upon the city because of their unbelief, and he also knew these people would soon be the ones shouting, “Crucify Him!”
Jesus was concerned about the eternal, not the temporal. He trusted that God His Father loved Him and had better things to come. He willingly placed the right to execute justice ultimately in His Father’s care. That allowed Jesus to purpose to do and say everything with integrity, truth, and love. He understood that the way of peace was God’s way of dealing with injustice. This is where the power lies, not human maneuvering. Robin Hood is a representation of this truth. He executed justice, but his execution was flawed. In turn, we, like this character, can have times when we are so right that we end up being wrong. Been there? Maybe it’s the words we said in anger without thinking about how they hurt someone else. Or it’s the reckless act we commit on impulse. Perhaps it’s the cause we fight for not realizing our convictions may be projected incorrectly.
Jesus, on the other hand, was bold but controlled. He did not retaliate. This is why the Gospel is so radical. Think of when Jesus was arrested in the garden at night by a mob of armed religious leaders and his friend Judas who betrayed Him for money. The act is completely unjust and at his friend’s defense, Peter pulls out his sword and cuts off a guy named Malchus’ ear. Before Jesus is led away to be mocked, beaten, and ultimately crucified, He heals the man’s ear and tells Peter this: “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”
And yes, Jesus willingly laid down his life. One of His statements on the cross was one of forgiveness of His enemies. It didn’t make sense to people. They literally thought all hope was lost. But they forgot what He told them, the resurrection was coming! God’s eternal purpose for humanity was coming. Victory was just a few days away when the stone was rolled away and they saw the grave was empty.
So many times we loose sight of this and get preoccupied with the injustice at hand. We devise our own plans. We, like humanity on the day Jesus died, forget the resurrection. The reason Disney’s Robin Hood is so likeable is because it reminds us that wrongs can be made right. Justice will prevail. And the good news is, in relationship with God, it will! The evil Prince John of our lives known as the Devil will done with forever when God takes care of Him (Revelation 20:10). We, like the inhabitants of Nottingham, will have cheer in victory and partake in the beautiful wedding banquet prepared by the ultimate King, God the Father. We, like maid Mariam, will be dressed in white and wed the great hero of our story, Jesus who risked everything in love for us (Revelation 19:6-8).
So take heart before you take an arrow out of your quiver. Remember who your Avenger is. You will have enemies, but be confident that there is hope. If you have a relationship with God, you are safe, no matter what may be aimed at you. Choose to place the injustices of life in God’s hands. You also have the power of prayer. We can pray anytime, all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Ephesians 1 tells us that we can pray that the eyes of our enemies be may enlighten to see clearly when tension arises. Jesus, in Luke 1:18, instructed His disciples to always pray and not give up. Remember, you do not wrestle (or fight) against people, but against wicked spiritual forces in opposition against you. If you’re going to fight, fight in the spirit. Like Robin Hood, you can arm up, but you can do it with spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) that will win every time. Above all, always ask Him to give you wisdom how to respond and resolve to be loving and truthful. Hope is up ahead and hope lives on in your hearts. So in the present, you can rejoice, live, laugh, and sing “oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day!”