Thursday, August 18, 2016

Jesus Is Nothing Like Superman - Kenneth Tanner

"Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head."

It’s tempting for contemporary Americans to think of Jesus along the mythos of Superman: an alien humanoid capable of extraordinary feats of strength, impervious to earthly elements, and virtually indestructible.

Yet Jesus is nothing like that. When the Son of God humbled himself, a quiet, wondrous mystery took shape in the womb of a Judaean teenager. God took on our shatterable humanity “in every respect.”

This means Jesus was vulnerable to all the frailties of a clay vessel, as fragile as anyone with a skeleton, brain, lungs, heart, skin, and spinal cord.

He could be crushed by stoning, burned by fire, weakened by a lack of water, food, or sleep; he was susceptible to cuts, bruises, bacteria, radiation, or gravity. His cause of death was likely exsanguination, or bleeding out.

He swallowed up death forever by dying, in agony and in utter disgrace, as a criminal, without resistance or appeal to a violent defense.

All the “superhuman” things Jesus did he did as a mere human. Revealing the "weakness of God" he was strong in an unanticipated, self-sacrificial way. Jesus demonstrated divine power (when he did so) for the purpose of reconciling all flesh and all things to himself, always from a motive of love and never the will to power. His victory over the Powers is won by a horrendous defeat.

Jesus gave his life for the life of the world, not as a kind of demigod like Superman but as Emmanuel, God in clay...with us and for us.

We contemporary humans fashion gods all of the time. In the Ancient Near East we used to make them of clay. The brilliance of a God who possesses the humility to make himself earthen in order to redeem us miserable makers of earthen idols drives me to my knees.

Instead Jesus gets on his knees and washes my feet, because this God always makes himself lower than us to raise the human race he loves above anything else in his creation to life without end.