That title may or may not mean anything to you, but it means something to me because I just finished reading the first book of The Hunger Games.
Yes, it’s young adult fiction. Yes, it has a love triangle. No, it’s not about vampires and werewolves. Just wanted to clear that up.
The book was good. Really good, I thought. We are dropped into a post-apocalyptic world with one government and everyone divided up into 12 districts according to what they produce. There’s the mining district, the farming district, the machinery district, and on and on. And every year, two “tributes,” ages 12-18, are chosen from each district to compete in The Hunger Games, a contest in televised throughout PanAmerica in which the tributes kill each other off until there is only one left.
Think The Running Man meets Lord of the Flies.
The heroine is Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who is a skilled hunter with a bow and arrow. She lives in District 12 with her mother and younger sister, Primrose. And, as fate would have it, her little sister, the embodiment of purity and innocence, is chosen to represent the district. Without thinking, Katniss volunteers to take her place with the full expectation that there is no way she would actually win the games, but would instead die a brutal, public death.
So at the core, we have heroic self-sacrifice where one gives her life for another. I’m sure, given the popularity of the book series and the upcoming movie, more than one student pastor has thought about how to work Kat and Prim into a sermon illustration. But before we start making the Christian comparison between Jesus and Kat, how both willingly and lovingly gave their lives for another, can I encourage you to remember this?
Jesus is better than Katniss Everdeen.
It’s not just the fact that in His sacrifice, Jesus emptied Himself of far more than any other person ever would. It’s not just that Jesus had more than enough power to vanquish all His enemies at any given moment. And it’s not just that there’s no question as to whether or not Jesus has actually won the victory over sin and death. It’s that the comparison really breaks down when you consider who the heroine was sacrificing herself for, and who Jesus was.
Primrose loved animals. She wore dresses. She liked to sing and had not a violent bone in her body. She was absolutely innocent. We are deceiving ourselves if we look at this character and see ourselves anywhere in her. Rather, we are the embodiment of Romans 5:6-7:
“While we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”
We’re not the innocent little girl; we’re the arrogant tributes who don’t see the contest for its barbarism but instead a chance for fame, wealth, and glory. We are the lemmings who fist bump all the way to death and hell and have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to safety, and only then do we realize the kind of danger we were in. And Jesus isn’t sacrificing Himself for someone pure and true; His sacrifice is for the rebels who would willingly pick up spears and stones and send Him on His way.
Jesus is better than Katniss. Thank God He is.