Like Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, Christians are exiled servants of the King, eagerly awaiting His promised return. Today, R.C. Sproul presents this perspective as the remedy for pessimism in the Christian life.
One of my favorite stories when I was a child—in fact, it was a story that so captivated me that I used to play games with my childhood friends where we would dress up in uniform that we would create out of our rag bags at home. We would cut capes and things like that. And we would play Robin Hood, and one of us would be Robin Hood and somebody else would be Will Scarlet and somebody else would be Little John and Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale, a minstrel, and so on. And we had great fun playing Robin Hood because the movie that captivated us more than any other movie was this one that was called _The Bandits of Sherwood Forest_ that I have to confess—and this’ll kill my friends that love trivia as much as I do—I don’t remember who starred in that. I think it was Errol Flynn, but I can’t be sure. It might’ve been Douglas Fairbanks Jr. It was one of those two. But in any case, there was Robin, and my first experience on the silver screen of watching the story of Robin Hood unfold. I was captivated by it. What’s the story about? If I can use it to transpose into our situation, there’s very real points of similarity between Robin Hood and the contemporary Christian. Robin Hood was called a bandit, an outlaw. He was exiled to live in Sherwood Forest, where he poached the king’s deer in order to survive. He robbed from the rich and gave to the poor and so on. The poor, who were victims of oppressive taxation, all inaugurated by the king? No, but by whom? Who was the king over England in the days of Robin Hood? Richard III, King Richard the Lionhearted, noble, princely, regal, ethical, righteous. And he’s off with the sign of the cross on his chest, fighting the holy war in the Crusades. And while he’s off on this mission of crusade for the kingdom of God, his brother, the wicked Prince John, usurps his throne and takes advantage of his brother’s absence and begins to oppress the people and enlist the power and the aid of the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham. But Robin Hood is a loyalist, and he is driven into exile with his men. But they were merry men. How could they be merry men? They were stripped of their possessions, stripped of their vocations, had to live in forage in the forest like beggars. They were happy because they knew who they were. They were faithful to their king who was absent. Well, the most moving scene in that entire film came at the end when unannounced, unheralded, incognito Richard the Lionhearted returned from the Crusades and entered again into England. And he came disguised as a monk with his head and his brilliant hair hidden by the cowl of the monk’s garment. And as he was traveling through the forest, he was mistaken by Robin Hood and his men as a traveling political friend of the Sheriff of Nottingham. And so, they arrested him and they stopped him and they pulled him down from his horse and they began to rough him up. And as Robin Hood was manhandling Richard, suddenly in the fray his hood fell back, and instantly Robin recognized his king. I don’t remember any of the other dialogue in the entire film; I was only six or seven years old. But I do remember this, that when Robin Hood looked into the face of his king, he fell on his face before him, crying, “My liege!” That’s what the Christian is. He’s an exile, but he’s a prince. He’s a son, she’s a daughter, of the King. The King is absent. The world refused to bow before Him, but it doesn’t change the fact that He is King. And that’s why a Christian who understands that can only be an optimist. There’s no room for pessimism in the kingdom of God.