First, if you don’t know, let me describe what an anti-hero is.
The anti-hero is the main character, our hero, the main person we follow, the protagonist. A protagonist in any story line is the focus of the story. A woman or man that we follow through the series events that happen to him/her, or they do, and we get to see what choices they make and how consiquences those have. This is purposefully vague since a protagonist isn’t necessarily a “good guy”.
Case in point, Dexter. He’s a serial killer who kills other serial killers. He’s not a good guy by any standard. But the whole story line of the series revolves around his decisions, his actions, and what he does. He is a perfect example of an anti-hero.
But an anti-hero isn’t necessarily a bad guy. Batman is an anti-hero as well, in that, although he is a super hero in the DC Comic universe, he has many flaws, including an identity crisis. He’s truly a hero for the postmodern era. (In fact I wrote a paper on that in college...that no one read).
But if you boil down the definition to the anti-hero to its simplest definition, you get one thing, a hero that isn’t what you would expect. In Batman’s case, we would prefer that he is emotionally stable, put together. However, and this is partly why we identify with Batman more than Superman, he isn’t. He’s got a lot of issues he’s working on, and totally failing at, but still doing a good job in fighting crime.
Jesus is an anti-hero for a very different reason. The Jews at the time (btw, Jesus was Jewish as well) were looking to the fulfilment of the prophecies in the Old Testament. (Of Course, they didn’t call it that, the New Testament hadn’t been written yet, they just called it The Torah, or The Law, or Scripture).
Some of the prophecies stated that this Messiah would do just that, smash heads, free the people, righting the wrongs and take over the world and rule it on God’s thrown. They wanted a conventional hero, one that lead a revolution. At the time the Romans were in charge of Israel. So, naturally, the Jews wanted a Messiah that would over throw the Romans, kick them out of Israel, or heck, even take over the Roman government entirely. They wanted Batman and Maximus and the Iron Giant all rolled up into one person.
But that’s not what Jesus was doing yet. As far as prophecy goes, that will happen, but later according to the book of Revelation, when Jesus comes back...someday.
2,000 years ago, when Jesus was doing is hanging out with people, being groovy, kinda hippie thing, the Jewish leaders at the time thought to themselves “Well, of course he’s not the messiah. He’s just some schmuck hanging out with the poor, the prostitutes and tax collectors.”
Jesus is the first anti-hero, in my humble opinion (pft, who am I kidding, I’m as arrogant as they come), because although he could have over thrown the Roman government and made all the faces of those who attacked him melt like in Indiana Jones, he didn’t.
Instead, he preached hope and the “good news”, he healed the sick, fed the hungry and the poor, spent time with those who were outcasts, ate with those considered to be too sinful to even eat with. So, pretty much, he SPENT TIME with those who needed to be loved. Doesn’t sound like much of a good super hero does it? Wouldn’t make for a very dynamic super hero comic book.
But, as a Christian, I understand that there was much more going on than just what we see. There was amazing stuff he was doing, healing the sick, casting out demons, bringing dead dudes back to life (and not even zombified dudes, but totally ok and completely alive). But what was almost more important was His battle with in the spiritual world. Every act he made following God was a win in the battle, every time he healed a sick person the enemy was weaker. Every time he showed someone kindness, God’s angels became stronger, more able to guide people towards God and Jesus.
So, is he an anti-hero? To us, what we see with our eyes, yes. He just freekin’ died. But we know he came back to life, and is still with us today guiding us through our journeys, showing us the way to God. I believe, just like he hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners 2,000 years ago, He is encouraging us to spend time with and love people in the GLBT community, gamers, lawyers, women who had abortions, women who are porn stars, addicts of all sorts, the poor especially, hell, even Republicans. (Just kidding).