Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, Jesus… and You

Matthew 26:42, “He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done.”

imagesSome of my favorite movies are about superheros. I enjoy epic films like Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine, etc. I could go on and on. Apart from the fact that these movies do a great job illustrating how real people are in constant need of rescue, I think most of us identify with these movies because there is a deep part in all of us that longs to be a hero. We all want to be the one who tears off our top layers revealing that inner warrior who valiantly comes to the aid of someone in need.

Today I finished reading through the Gospel of Matthew. It was truly captivating as I saw Jesus life through a different lens. Jesus is a hero. Most people would not think of Christ in this way, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrate that Jesus is a hero who came to save the lost.

In Matthew 26, Jesus received a hero’s welcome. The woman with an alabaster jar honored Christ by anointing him in preparation for his burial, yet Jesus’ own disciples failed to see the grandeur of what was about to happen. Jesus was preparing himself for the pinnacle event of all history, his death and resurrection!

The story of Jesus’ life also presents an antagonist. Every good story needs one. Satan and sin were at work in the lives of people trying to prevent Jesus’ dramatic rescue of humanity. Judas was certainly the iconic darling in the last stages of Satan’s plot against Christ and humanity. While Jesus prevailed in his mission, he was not surprised. Heroes expect opposition.

I believe that the single greatest reason Jesus prevailed is because Jesus was born to be a hero. He was sent by the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reminds us that “Your will must be done.” Jesus was sent to drink from a cup that could not be taken away from him. Not just anyone can be a hero for humanity. Jesus was sent by God for this very task.

Jesus’ life also proves his heroism. There was not a single time when he failed, even while he was betrayed and left alone by those closest to him. He was faithful to his mission. I remember in Spiderman when Peter was rejected by his best friend Harry. Yet Peter (Spiderman) continued in his mission faithfully. No matter what, heroes live their life by what they know to be true and not by what happens to them.

Jesus also took a beating for humanity. He suffered emotionally, spiritually and physically on our behalf. The wrath of God was poured upon Christ even to the point that he was deserted by God.  This role of Jesus is equivalent to the scapegoat in the Old Testament. During the Day of Atonement a priest would lay his hands upon the head of a goat and pray over it confessing the sins of God’s people. The sins were imputed upon the goat and the goat would be sent out into the wilderness abandoned and alone. When Jesus hung on the cross, he received upon himself the sins of mankind. Jesus was abandoned as the wrath of God raged against him on our behalf as he hung on the cross and was in the belly of the earth for three days. Heroes freely carry the burdens of others. Heroes suffer when they must. This happens in every epic story.

During the 3 days Jesus carried our burdens in hell, his followers were scattered. All hope seemed lost. But Jesus was being victorious yet he was unseen. Finally, on that Easter morning, three days later, Mary went to the grave to find it empty. Jesus had risen! He was alive, and he showed himself and was seen by his followers and over 500 people in Jerusalem. Jesus prevailed. Heroes prevail. No matter how many times a hero is beaten down, they always seem to come back. Jesus did, and he is coming again.

So what does this all mean? Jesus had a cup that was made for him to drink. He drank it for you and for me. It was an awful cup, but He did what He knew to be true and prevailed through His suffering no matter what the opposition. Jesus carried the weight of our sin and rebellion against God and will save those who turn to him. The reality is that we all have junk that has touched our life and affected our attitude and spirit towards God and people. No matter how hard we try, this natural bent toward rebellion seems to ebb ad flow back into our life. It is difficult to shake. Life transformation occurs when we realize that we need to be rescued. Jesus is our hero we can count on to bring life change.

Second, as we trust Christ to rescue us, our attitude towards others can be expected to change. So often, people tend to find Christ as their hero but no one teaches them to take the next step. 1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps.” Peter left all believers with a hero’s welcome. There is a grandeur that we should all embrace. We have been prepared through Jesus’ example to be a hero.

The final verses of Matthew outline our commission. We have been instructed to make disciples who make disciples intervening in the lives of the lost through love and good works that they too might know Christ. This will mean living life by what we know to be true, freely carrying the burdens of others, and prevailing no matter what. A follower of Jesus is a hero who points to the ultimate Hero.

As I think about this, I am humbled. I am reminded of the disciples who scattered under pressure. I am reminded of the people I am called to love. People are difficult to love sometimes, especially when they are different than me. Am I being a hero to someone? If so, how? What can I do to get involved  in someones life in such a way that will bring hope and significance to them so that they too can know their Hero?

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