I’m not sure how many of you, like me, are eagerly anticipating the upcoming Marvel Studio’s movie: Avengers – Infinity War. Some of us have not even gotten over Black Panther… “Wakanda forever!” Super hero movies are all the rage these days. What is it in these movies capture our imagination?
Growing up, Christopher Reeve was Superman for me. And he was probably my favourite super hero. He was strong. Fast. Good. Everything I was not and everything I wished I could be… except for wearing the underwear on the outside.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why superhero movies appeal to us; we look at the state of our world today… a world which is still (even though we are more affluent than ever before, more educated than ever before, more medically/scientifically/technologically advanced than ever before…) and yet a world still wrecked by poverty, violence, injustice, evil, suffering… we long for someone to affect a change to this state of existence. I’m quite sure if you look deep enough, you will find these threads in your homes, in your school, in your classes, in your friends, in yourself.
We long for a Superhero to save us. We are looking for a Saviour. It was into this world that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ. In the gospel of Luke, we read the account of the birth of Jesus. Luke 2:8-11 “In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” A Savior has been born. Christ the Lord.
A Savior who saves us. From what are we saved? The biblical answer is we are saved from sin. But here’s something we don’t always consider. Sin is not only about doing bad things. As pastor and author Timothy Keller says, “sin is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.”
We sin not merely because we sleep around, but because we look to romance and relationships to validate who we are as persons. We sin not merely because we steal or lie or cheat or backstab others to get ahead, but because we think our grades and results and careers will ultimately define us and satisfy us. Such idolatry leads to drivenness, addictions, anxiety, obsessiveness, depression, envy of others, and resentment.
This is the result of us giving our hearts to something or someone other than the Creator and Sustainer of our lives, God Himself. We were not created to live in this way. And God in His love sent us a superhero, Jesus Christ. D. A. Carson a pastor and theologian once remarked, “If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”
Jesus Christ walked the earth some 2000 years ago. He lived a perfect life, the life we ought to have lived. He died a sinner’s death on a cross, the death we ought to have died; He took upon Himself our sins even though He Himself was sinless. He was buried in the ground but rose again from the dead three days later, for our salvation. This is why Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! But how does Jesus save us? In the gospel of John 1:12, the Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”
Our identity as children of God is a gift God gives us by pure grace. We do not merit it. We cannot earn it. In humble repentance, we are to receive it by faith. When we do so, we find that we no longer strive to earn our approval from man because we know our significance and worth is not tied to our abilities and performance. It is no longer about proving who we are but resting in whose we are. We are children of God.
[Let’s pray]: Eternal God and Heavenly Father, as we approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may we marvel afresh at the greatest gift of love You gave us in Jesus Christ; that because of His cross we can have our sins washed clean, be accepted as children of God and live in that freedom. In Jesus name we pray, amen.