Jesus and Sherlock Holmes: Comparing Two Resurrections

If you haven’t watched the BBC show Sherlock, you might not realize the many connections between Benedict Cumberbatch’s sociopathic British detective and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

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Here are three ways the deaths and resurrections of Sherlock and Jesus are different, and three ways they’re similar, from the episodes “The Reichenbach Fall” and “The Empty Hearse.”

**Warning: many, many spoilers ahead. If you have not watched Sherlock, run away and eat scones or something. While getting caught up on Sherlock.**

Three Ways Sherlock and Jesus Are Different

One: Sherlock played the odds, then made his choice; Jesus just made his choice.

When Mycroft helped Sherlock plan a way to escape death, he determined that there were thirteen possible outcomes that would follow what took place on the roof with Moriarty. In the end, it was “Operation Lazarus” that was needed, and everything was smoothly and efficiently put into place to fake Sherlock’s death.

With Jesus, there weren’t thirteen possible scenarios.

There was only one.

Because believe me, if there had been another way, Jesus was ready to take it. Before his death, he prayed in anguish, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

It wasn’t possible. There was only one way to end the story so that we lived, and that was if Jesus died.

Two: Sherlock lied about himself before his “death,” Jesus told the truth.

Forced by Moriarty to declare himself a fraud, Sherlock informed John before jumping off a building, “I’m a fake. The newspapers were right all along.”

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Although Jesus spent most of his trial in silence, one place where he spoke up was when the high priest asked if he was the Son of God. And, given the chance to deny it, to admit that his ministry was a fraud, he said instead, “I am.”

Even the sign hung above him on the cross read, “The King of the Jews.” It proclaimed the truth about who Jesus was as clearly as the London tabloid headlines proclaimed lies about who Sherlock was.

 

Three: Sherlock didn’t actually die; Jesus did.

I mean, I felt like it needed to be said. That’s a pretty big difference.

 

Three Ways Sherlock and Jesus Are Similar

 

One: Both Sherlock and Jesus were willing to give up their lives for others.

Sherlock knew that John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade would die if he didn’t. Moriary was so sure of Sherlock’s loyalty to his friends that he didn’t need to be around to see it (another similarity: the person we see as the villain of both stories committed suicide).

In the same way, Jesus knew that we would all die apart from God if he didn’t.

And the loneliness of Sherlock standing on top of the hospital, knowing that lies will be told about him when he’s gone, saying goodbye to his best friend…that can’t compare to the anguish of Jesus’ cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 

Look at that: he even formed the shape of a cross with his arms.

Look at that: he even formed the shape of a cross with his arms.

Sherlock said he was “Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.”

Can you see Jesus saying that to Satan, while Satan blinks at him in astonishment and denies it? “Nah. You’re ordinary. You’re ordinary. You’re on the side of the angels.”

And Jesus says, “Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.”

Not in the same way as Sherlock, of course. But Jesus did something an angel would never do, could never do.

He died for us.

 

Two: Their closest friends mourned in similar ways.

“You…you told me once that you weren’t a hero. There were times I didn’t even think you were human. But let me tell you this, you were the best man, the most human…human being that I’ve ever known, and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie, so there. I was so alone, and I owe you so much. But, please, there’s just one more thing, one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don’t be…dead.”

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If you listen, you can hear a variation on these same words being spoken by a different John: John the beloved disciple. You can hear Mary Magdalene whispering them through tears, pleading with Jesus to not to be dead. You can hear Thomas wondering if the teacher he thought was God was really just a human after all. You can hear Peter begging for one more miracle.

It’s what they had to be thinking, because Jesus had promised them he was God.

And Gods don’t die.

No version of the Jewish idea of redemption ended at a tomb. That’s not what they were expecting, not even after the women came running in with a crazy tale about an empty grave.

So, like John Watson, they mourned.

 

Three: People reacted strongly to both resurrections.

Little-known Bible trivia: Peter punched Jesus in the face in that first post-crucifixion meeting for not telling them he was alive.

Just kidding. That’s completely not in the Bible anywhere.

That’s actually the reaction John Watson had to Sherlock’s reappearance. Mrs. Hudson screamed. And good old bumbling Lestrade just gave him a big hug.

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The one thing that no one did was shrug, yawn, and say, “Oh. You’re alive. Huh. Well, time to reheat yesterday’s fish and chips.”

In the same way, Jesus’ death and resurrection were not quiet events. The earthquake, the curtain tearing in two, the unnatural darkness. And let’s not forget that strange and rarely talked about occurrence of random dead people walking out of their tombs. I’m guessing that shook people up a bit.

After Easter Sunday, you had a bunch of half-hysterical women running around proclaiming that Jesus was alive. (I am not going to compare Mary Magdalene to a Sherlock fangirl because that might be borderline heresy…but I’m pretty sure the tone of voice would be similar. Just saying.) According to 1 Corinthians 15:6, more than 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection at one time. And they started talking about it right away.

Sure, people reacted in differently. But the one thing that no one did was shrug, yawn, and say, “Oh. You’re alive. Huh. Hey, anyone know where we put that leftover Passover bread?”

“Sherlock Lives,” the tagline for the third series, is pretty exciting news, especially for fans of the show. But “Jesus Lives”? That’s the best possible news.

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And one bonus similarity: Sherlock and Jesus both inspire bloggers to write things.

So, what did I miss? Any other similarities between Sherlock Holmes and Jesus?

9 comments

  1. Great observations, Amy. Two bases clearly seen, the father of lies and the God of Truth. And I love your humor…I guess I should, suspecting its source!

    1. I think that the reason why we react so strongly to tales of compassion and sacrifice is because, as C.S. Lewis said, they’re all echoes of the Great Story.
      I mean, even a self-declared sociopath is loveable once we see that he is willing to die to save his friends. Also Mrs. Hudson is sweet (even if she’s been sadly changed by modern influences, which I think is the most horrible change from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian London and today’s.)

  2. This is great! I’m so glad someone pointed this out. It always makes me feel really good when someone draws biblical comparisons to one of my favorite things…

  3. Hi, I know that this has been a long time since this was posted, but being a busy teacher, I just discovered BBC Sherlock last year. (I know, I know, WHERE have I been? Answer: GRADING!)

    I am so glad that someone has taken the time to discover the multitude of parallels between the story of Christ and Sherlock Holmes. I’m unsure whether the parallels are due to Doyle or Moffat & Gatis, but I have found so. many. parallels. I’ll try not to be wordy and use bullets instead.

    *3 temptations= Blind Banker (stones into bread), Scandal in Belgravia (fall down and worship me), and of course The Reichenbach Fall (jump off the temple)

    *characters in BBC Sherlock =Biblical characters. 1) John Watson, of course= Apostle John, “The one whom Jesus loved”,2) Mrs. Martha Hudson=Martha, friend from Bethany. Martha was chided by Jesus for being busy; Hudders picks up after Sherlock, makes him tea in the morning, and constantly reminds him she’s “not [his] housekeeper”.3)Anderson=Apostle Peter. Besides Judas, Peter is the only disciple who outrightly denies Christ. In Sherlock, Anderson with Sally Donovan were part of the smear campaign to discredit Sherlock, but once Sherlock’s “death” occurred, Anderson “repented” and became the leader of the group of “believers” in Sherlock Holmes. 4)Lestrade=Nicodemas; Caught between a rock and a hard place, poor Nicodemas kept one foot in the Sanhedrin whilst also beliieving in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Likewise, Lestrade straddles the fence between NSY and his relationship with Sherlock Holmes, who detests the ineptitude of NSY, much like Jesus outted the Pharisees and Saduccees. 5)Mycroft Holmes=God, the Father. Just as His Heavenly Father provided the means and the ways for Jesus Christ’s existence, and Christ didn’t do anything outside of His Father’s will, so Mycroft pays for Sherlock’s flat, watches him and his friends at all times, helps him to deter him from his drug habit, and helps him to flee London in order to defeat Moriarty’s syndicate. 6) As far as I’m concerned, the best for last: Molly=Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was one of the women who helped provide for the Christ and His Boys during Christ’s 3-year ministry, present at his crucifixion, and intended to anoint his body for burial at the tomb on the first day of the week. In terms of legend, Mary Magdalene was said to have been in love with Jesus Christ. Likewise, Molly Hooper provides body parts for Sherlock’s experimentation and access to the lab and equipment for his use. She also helped to provide a decoy body for Sherlock, put her own job on the line to help him fake his death, and like Mary Magdalene, works with dead bodies. Also, Mary Magdalene’s name is always said together because of the commonality of the name “Mary”. Notice how often Sherlock Holmes cannot say Molly’s name without her last name? It’s almost like a double-name.

    Still more that I’ve not even covered: the flogging Sherlock endured….his homeless network…his birthday is Epiphany (January 6)….

    Anyway, I know this was lengthy, and I’m not sure that you still follow this blog, but if I didn’t tell someone, I was going to burst. I’m thinking about a formal paper, but I don’t know if this is all too elementary for a formal paper. What do you think?

    A fan of Sherlock, but a follower of Christ,

    CompOneMom

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