I remember going with my family to see my nephew play Little John in a high school production of Robin Hood. It was fun watching teens portray Robin and all our favorite characters: the stout Friar Tuck, lovely Maid Marian, and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. Our Little John held his own: fighting Prince John’s soldiers with a wooden sword and even flinging an apple at the Sheriff.
We know this children’s story well. King Richard’s return from the Crusades has been delayed: either by capture, or some say execution. In the meantime, the king’s brother (Prince John) seizes the throne as a tyrant, taxing the poor quite literally to death. Enforcing the fake king’s wishes, the Sheriff and his henchmen oppress the towns and countryside alike, keeping everyone in fear and poverty.
But Robin Hood and his band of men decide enough is enough. Still loyal to the true king and hoping he’s still alive, these colorful outlaws risk life and limb to steal back from Prince John and merrily thwart the Sheriff at every turn.
You can’t help but cheer for Robin as he wins the Friar over to his cause, wins the archery contest, and wins Marian’s heart. But while Robin of Locksley is the main character, it is King Richard who is truly the hero of the story.
There’s only so much Robin and his poor band can do, only so long they can withstand against the wealth and might of Prince John. But when King Richard suddenly returns, his authority is unquestioned. The Prince and the Sheriff are deposed, Robin is acquitted, and the peasants rejoice.
To me, the point of Robin Hood isn’t let’s rob from the rich to give to the poor. Rather, we need a great King to return and set everything right. As Philippians 3:20-21 encourage us, “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.” Even so come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)