We believe that salvation is by God’s grace and action alone accomplished through his Son Jesus Christ.
I am old enough to remember watching reruns of the TV show, The Adventures of Superman! (And yes! You can find it on YouTube). Actor George Reeves played the man of steel as TV’s first Superman. Every episode began with the same monologue: “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Superman!”
Now, the origins of Superman are storied. Despite the rumors, there is one main reason why two Jewish-American teens (Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster) created the caped crusader: they both desperately wanted someone to right all that was wrong in the world. History has it that Jerry Seigel’s father was tragically killed during a robbery at the second-hand store he owned. This was really the impetus for the creation of Superman.
To right all that is wrong with the world. That sounds like a noble task, indeed. Too great a deed for a comic strip hero. And yet, humanity, deep-down, needs a hero.
Superman was born out of grief and pain.
That seems typical with the ways of this fallen world. We create heroes from our own pain and they often are caricatures of the very problems we don’t want to face. We create heroes to save us and vindicate us, but they also share in our own weaknesses and flaws. Superman had his kryptonite, after all.
These days we even call them “anti-heroes.” An antihero performs noble actions but not always for the right reasons. An anti-hero tries to help but it usually involves unhelpful ways. It reminds me of our sinful flesh. We can convince ourselves to carry out the most despicable actions, thinking that our dysfunctional behavior will have a positive impact. We see this inherent in everyone; ourselves included as well as the people we desire to help. Clients will act out. Even the strongest addict can be triggered. The human mind is deceptive. Thoughts and cognitions can convince people that pornography will ease the tension, another ounce of Meth will bring clarity, or that one more shot will make the pain go away.
Our superheroes are born out of pain. The salvation we all desperately need was not born out of vengeance or pain alone, but rather was born of grace.
Undeserved love. The heart of God does not want anyone to perish. In love, God sent us a true superhero. He sent his Anointed, his Chosen, his Christ – Jesus of Nazareth. Yes. Jesus did come to avenge us. He came to redeem us from the curse of sin. He came to crush the serpentine head of Satan. He came to tear down death’s door. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the heroic exploits of our Savior-God which exemplify the love of our Lord. Our Lord Jesus endured the cross. He scorned its shame. He did it all because of grace. He envisioned you and I basking in the joy of eternal rescue. What a glorious thought!
That’s why superheroes wear capes. Capes express a sense of majesty as well as a touch of mystery. Capes also make it easier for a cartoonist or illustrator to show movement and cause the hero to stand out. Grace is Jesus’ cape. The undeserved love of Christ is a thing of pure majesty. There is no other love like the love of Jesus. And what a mystery! Jesus willingly came to our little planet to save us by his heroic actions! God’s love is easily seen in Jesus’ actions. He is the epitome of grace. Grace is what makes our Savior move and stand out in stark contrast to all other would-be heroes.
Apparently, George Reeves, TV’s first Superman, died by his own hand in June 1959. To a generation of children raised on his adventures– leaping tall buildings and out running speeding bullets — the idea that Superman could have died was unthinkable. And yet, if we believe that we are super-humans, convincing ourselves that we are faster than speeding bullets or more powerful than locomotives; the truth will eventually catch up to us. The truth is that we are not super-human. We all need a true hero to accomplish eternal salvation. It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. No, it’s not Superman. It is, however, Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Pastor Edward Frey
1. List some of the “heroes” we create to save ourselves, but, in the end, lead to ruin.
2. How is Jesus a complete contrast to all other “heroes?”
Lord Jesus, we praise you for your great majesty. In love, you came into our fallen world to save us from the greatest of spiritual villains: sin, death, and Satan. We glorify you for your saving love. We look forward to unending victory in the joys of heaven. Amen.