Tag: Jesus

The Real Superman

Stamp_Day_for_SupermanSuperman has always been a favorite of mine. Starting out as a comic book hero in 1939, he has been around ever since. In 1940, the radio series The Adventures of Superman began. During that time, any one listening to it could probably describe Superman as “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

All the movies, old as well as new, and all the television programs, including the most recent Lois and Clark and Smallville, have had my viewing attention. They are good, fun and clean entertainment.

Superman has sustained popularity because every one wants to believe in a hero. Interestingly, Superman did not originate on earth. He came from Krypton, sent to earth by his parents as an effort to save him as their planet was being destroyed.

Found and kept by a loving couple in Kansas, he determined early on to use his super powers for good and not evil, adapting to his adopted planet. He accepted people’s shortcomings without giving into the temptation to become like them when their attitudes and actions were not consistent with his standards of honesty and decency.

Superman felt his disguise as a mild mannered reporter was necessary in order to be able to help others. At a moment’s notice, Clark Kent slips away to become Superman when he becomes aware of someone’s need. He wasn’t really a dual personality. Clark and Superman were one and the same. When people were caught in dangerous situations and could not help themselves, Superman showed up to do what would have been impossible for them to do.

Superman had his enemies, the most well known Lex Luthor. He feels like he can not do all he wants to do – control the world – with Superman around. He is always behind the scenes trying to connive a way to get rid of Superman.

f72123Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is no fictional character. He is real. He left heaven to come to earth to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. His real enemy, Satan, brought sin into the world and has been trying to control mankind ever since. Satan knows we are helpless to save ourselves.

The best definition of humility is strength under control. Jesus humbled himself to live among men so that He might save them. Jesus is both the Lion of Judah and the sacrificial Lamb of God. Instead of leaving the human race without any hope and helpless, Jesus chose to give His own life to save those who would trust Him.

Jesus is the only real hero there is.

[Jesus] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).

Joseph, the Man in the Background in the Nativity

800px-Nürnberg_Frauenkirche_Krippe_Anbetung_der_KönigeWhen unpacking my Christmas decorations, I love pulling out and setting up my collection of nativity scenes. It is the picture of the real Christmas story: the gift of the Son of God to the world.

Jesus is the central figure in the nativity scene. It would not mean anything without Him. When I am placing the other figures around Him, I usually place Mary behind His right and Joseph behind Him on the left.

The placing of Joseph in the nativity scene is somewhat symbolic of his life. He is the man in the background. Many stories have been written about how Mary was chosen to be the mother of our Savior, but little has been said about the man who was chosen by God to raise His son.

Matthew tells us more about Joseph than anyone else. Like me, I think Matthew must have been impressed with this humble man who loved God, loved the mother of His Son and loved His Son in a way that no one else could.

After Mary told him she had been chosen to bear the Christ child, Joseph had the first of his dreams that included instructions from God. The angel in the dream told Joseph not to be afraid but to wed Mary as he had planned.

Joseph was visited by an angel of the Lord in his dreams at least twice more. After the visit of the wise men, he was instructed in a dream to take his family to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill the child. He was told to stay until he was visited again. After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to go to the land of Israel. Joseph settled in the city called Nazareth, thus fulfilling the prophecy about Jesus that He would be a Nazarene.

Joseph is mentioned again when he and Mary found Jesus conversing with the teachers in the temple. When Mary questioned Jesus as to why He had not come with them when they left the city, Jesus said, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). This is the last time Joseph is mentioned, so he must have died between the time Jesus was twelve and the beginning of His ministry.

Although Jesus’ brothers resented Him and for a long time did not believe in Him, that was not true of Joseph. He did not resent raising a Son that was not his own. He accepted that assignment from God without question.

Joseph was an unusual man, humble and obedient. What Jesus learned about carpentry, he learned from Joseph. Joseph must have also taught Jesus much about His Father’s word as well, for we know that Jesus learned the Scripture as a child.

I am looking forward to meeting Joseph in heaven, the man in the background in the nativity.

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25).

Forgetting the Cross

Some years back, my husband was a pastor in far west Texas. He led our church to hold an annual evangelistic crusade in a mountain amphitheater. Although it was difficult in that city to get new people to come to the church building, in this beautiful outdoor setting, the attendance was always very good.

A large cross, illumined by spotlights, was placed strategically behind the stage area. No one attending the services could miss seeing the old rugged cross on the hill. The cross was central in the preaching and the music. Many people were saved as a result of the crusades.

Set up and tear down of the equipment was an all day affair, involving many people and much labor. One year, when things that were to be carried back to the church had all been loaded on the trucks and the tear down team was ready to drive away, my husband heard one of the clean up crew for the amphitheater cry out, “Hey, mister, you forgot your cross!” Sure enough, the cross still stood on that hill, alone, and forgotten. My husband has never forgotten the implications of that oversight, nor have I.

For many years, I have observed preachers and churches who have forgotten the cross. No one seems to be offended with stories about Jesus, the nativity, the miracles and the parables. However, when the whole gospel is preached and the cross is included, there is a different reaction, sometimes a violent one. Preachers are tempted to leave the cross out of the gospel in order to reach the crowds. People would rather hear a motivational message loosely based on scripture than the whole gospel, with the terrible reality that it was our sin that nailed the Son of God to the cross.

The sweet story of the nativity has to include the horrors of the cross and the glory of the resurrection. Jesus paid for the sins of mankind on His cross. After His resurrection, He sat down at the right hand of the Father, His mission complete. The whole story of Jesus must include the cross and the resurrection.

25019718-resurrection-christ-easterDon’t forget the cross!

Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said…And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world (1 Corinthians 15:3-4,17-19 NLT).