Years ago, there was a popular album-turned musical-turned movie called Jesus Christ Superstar. Musically, it was a sensation. Theologically, it was a shambles. The portrayal of Jesus was nothing short of blasphemous. The appellation "Superstar" was hardly indicative of his status, then and now.
What do you think of when you hear the word hero? If you're Dagwood Bumstead, you salivate while imagining a loaf of bread loaded with meats and condiments. A fervent moviegoer might think of Superman or Indiana Jones or Buck Rogers. Or, on the feminine side, Lassie.
Webster's defines hero as "1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. 2. any person who has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal. 3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc." No mention of meat, Monterey Jack, and mayonnaise here, just character qualities of the highest taste.
One of November's great holidays is Veteran's Day. Although not called "Veteran's Day" until later, the holiday was born after the end of WWI, in 1919. President Wilson inaugurated the celebration with these words:
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.
By his definition, a hero is willing to die for his country, in order to free the people from some evil and usher in peace and justice. A true heroman or womanis ready to sacrifice all for a righteous cause.
We pause to salute and honor military heroes this month and at other occasions. Police officers, firefighters, teachers in school shootings, Secret Service agents, missionaries, ordinary citizens in times of crisisanyone can be called upon to be a hero at any moment. Let us pause to reflect on someone who is not only a hero, but a superhero.
Judged by the above definitions, Jesus Christ qualifies as a superhero. He gave his life for others, only in a way that surpasses any human act of heroism.
Jesus was a man of courage. Although faced with the threat of certain hatred and death, "when the time had come for Him to be received up . . . He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51, NKJV). He inspired bravery in his disciples: "Then Thomas . . . said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with Him'" (John 11:16, NKJV). He was admired for his character: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).
Jesus is a role model for all. The Apostle Paul commanded, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). We know that Jesus is the principal male character in God's story: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).
The act that qualifies Jesus as a superhero was his death. He died not just for a friend or family member or employer or head of state or nationhe died for every person who ever did or will exist, friend and foe. "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
We ought, using Wilson's example, to be thankful for Christ's victory that freed us from sin and satisfied God's justice, bringing us peace (Romans 6:18-22; 3:26; 5:1). Jesus is the true superhero!
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