Posted by: dacalu | 6 April 2012

Jesus Christ and Superman

I want to give special thanks to my friend Kate who led the Maundy Thursday service I attended this evening.  Her sermon inspired me.

Tonight I am reflecting on the difference between Jesus and any number of mythical heroes.  In particular I’d like to use Superman.  He’s a good, solid, American hero.  Very little objectionable about him, well known, well liked.  And yes, it appeals to the geek in me.  So let us compare Jesus Christ and Superman (incidentally a comparison made quite a few times in the last few decades).

For what do we remember Superman?  Faster than a speeding bullet.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Superman is known for the things he did that no regular person did.

For what do we remember Jesus?  Resurrection, yes, but truthfully the Crucifixion seems to come up more often.  On this night, Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus for breaking bread with his disciples.  This is the one thing he commanded us to remember.  This is the one thing Christians commemorate and reenact every Sunday.  Yes, it’s resurrection day, but in most places, it’s celebrated by the sharing of bread and wine in front of a piece of art that reflects the crucifixion.

The Christian hero is remembered, not for acts of divinity or magic, but for sharing his food and for dying.  I find that remarkable.

I don’t want to downplay the resurrection.  For me that is, and must be, central to the whole story, and yet I’m remarkably proud that Christianity pays so little attention to Jesus miracles in the story of his life.  Certainly, we speak of the two big miracles, the incarnation and the resurrection, but those are perhaps more miracles performed by God (one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).  Wonderfully often we refuse to treat Jesus as a superhero – not even as one who excelled in discipline, asceticism, or that byword of modern hero stories – entrepreneurial spirit.  Jesus excelled at preaching, teaching, loving, healing, sharing food.  I believe he was, in a very important sense, a pacifist, allowing human fear and selfishness to run its course in the crucifixion.  I admire Jesus for things that any one could do.  He did them.  This is not to downplay his divinity.  It is to say that – in a very important way – it is his humanity that makes him worthy of worship, rather than simple respect.

It’s easy to praise Superman.  It would probably even be easy to obey Superman.  Jesus merits far more and far better.  It is, I think, easy to love Jesus, to worship and adore Jesus, because he was (and is) one of us.

Wishing you a grace filled and insightful Maundy Thursday.

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