A Strange Way to Save the World

A Strange Way to Save the World

The most popular movies during the past 30 years have been about comic book superheroes with supernatural powers. They leap tall buildings in a single bound. They can be invisible. They can fly. They seem to be indestructible. Their enemies are weird and diabolical, with ingenious schemes to commit crime. The superheroes desire to live a normal life, but they sacrifice their desire to save the world. It is part of their attraction to us. Although we know the story is a fantasy and our superheroes will eventually triumph over evil, we sit in the theater, cheer for them, and anticipate the next sequel.

God created the real world and it was a perfect paradise. God, in his infinite wisdom and incredible love for us, gave man the gift of free will. Man could choose to love and obey God and live in paradise, or he could choose to rebel against God and curse the world God had lovingly created for him. Man, through Adam and Eve, doubted God’s loving command and chose to rebel. The result is that the world we now live in is cursed. Sin dominates our world and with it comes disease, hatred, war, pain, suffering, death, and selfishness.

With the world in such desperate shape, you would think that God would send a superhero to save it. We don’t expect God to send someone with tights, capes, and masks, but we wish God would send a powerful, dynamic, charismatic leader who could wield power wisely and to save the world by overcoming our enemies. That is what Israel thought the Savior, called the Messiah, would be like. That is what we desire from our political leaders and heroes. Words like humble, gentle, loving, and forgiving don’t come to mind. However, God’s ways are not like our ways and God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Consider whom God chooses.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Rather than send a superhero into the world, God sent His Son as a vulnerable baby. God’s plan for saving the world was for Him to grow up as a man, suffer rejection, and be executed for crimes He didn’t commit. To us, that’s a strange way to save the world, but it’s the only way that would work, because a flashy superhero couldn’t do the job. Let’s consider why.

A superhero is someone who is larger than life. He fills the room with his presence. For example, when Batman shows up, everyone is awestruck. The indestructible suit with a cape, the Bat-mobile roaring down the street, windows breaking, bad guys getting tossed all over the place, and then there’s the Bat Signal in the sky, striking fear in the hearts of criminals. When he shows up, you can’t miss Batman.

No, God’s way of saving the world didn’t involve a superhero who was larger than life. God’s way for saving the world demanded humility. Jesus entered the world in the most humble place and He lived His life in humility.

Jesus did nothing to draw the world’s attention to Himself, but He did everything to draw the world’s attention to His Father. In addition, He calls us, His followers, to do the same.

Philippians 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Last week, we saw in the Word that Jesus is God! He is God, who humbly chose to take on human flesh, become one of us, submit Himself to the will of the Father, and die a humiliating death of crucifixion; so that, we might be made right with our Creator and not suffer the penalty for sin.

The world needs saving, but rather than send a hero who is larger than life, God sent his Son, Jesus, as a baby; humbly born to die a humble death. To us, humility seems like a strange way to save the world.

God’s method for saving the world was strange in another way. If someone shoots at Superman, the bullets just bounce off. Then he takes the gun away from them and wads it up like a little piece of paper. He can fly faster than a rocket. Superman has the power to destroy an asteroid with his eyes or to see inside of a building. (We haven’t seen him in the movies lately because of the lack of phone booths.)

You’d think that when God decided to save the world he’d send a hero, like Superman, who is overpowering, because sin is a powerful thing. But Superman has no power over sin, because sin resides in man’s heart. We, in and of ourselves, are powerless against sin. So, God chose to send Jesus, who is humble and gentle.

Jesus declares to us in Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 21:5 ’See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

Jesus is the perfect example of gentleness. His response to a broken and sinful world is to restore gently that which is broken.

Often, we misunderstand gentleness. We have a tendency to associate gentleness with weakness. Christ is gentle, but I assure you He is not weak. The power of God is very real in His life and ministry. The miracles He performed were powerful. His ability to endure the cross, when He could have rejected it, speaks of His power. His resurrection and triumph over death clearly reveal His power.

Super heroes overpower their enemies, but Jesus saves the world through gentleness. To us, gentleness is a strange way to save the world, but it is the only way, because you don’t overpower sin by taking people’s guns and wadding them up, but by changing their heart where sin abides.

God’s method for saving the world was strange in yet another way. Spiderman can shoot webs out of his hands. He swings over the city at breakneck speed. He can scale a wall with his fingers and toes. His spider sense tells him when something is about to happen. You’d think that when the world needs saving, God would send a superhero, like Spiderman, who could display mighty acts. But, God chose to send his Son who instead displayed love.

Every miracle Jesus did was a mighty act, but each time it was done in order to display His love. Time and time again, Jesus was moved by love and compassion to heal the sick.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 20:34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Mark 1:41 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

The ultimate display of His love for us is His death upon the cross. That death is what saves the world, defeating sin and reconciling God and man. Jesus displayed the mightiest act of all, an act of absolute love, the act of dying in our place to pay for our sins. We marvel at God’s love and wonder how He could do that for us. Love seems like a strange way to save the world.

God’s method for saving the world was strange in one more way. Most superheroes bring punishment to evil doers. They hunt down the bad guys, they fight the bad guys, they capture the bad guys, and they punish them or at least they let the authorities punish them. One of the primary themes that runs under the surface of our favorite superhero stories is the theme of crime and punishment. You’d think that when God wanted to save the world He’d send someone who would punish those who were doing wrong.

Instead, John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn or bring punishment, He came to offer forgiveness.

Nevertheless, there are those who will reject the salvation and forgiveness offered by Jesus. Furthermore, they will refuse to accept the invitation for a relationship with God. And if they are still in their rebellion when they die, they will spend eternity separated from God, punished in Hell. That is their choice, but Jesus didn’t come to bring punishment, He came to offer forgiveness to each and every one of us who would believe in Him and follow Him.

His death upon the cross took the place of our punishment. His death paid for our crimes of sin so that we could come to God and experience His love, mercy, and forgiveness. The world needs saving, but rather than send a superhero who would bring punishment, God sent His Son, who brings us forgiveness.

To us, who want to see justice, evil punished, and wrongs made right, forgiveness is a strange way to save the world. However, where would we be if God gave us justice?

Jesus is the Savior of the world, but much of the world still rejects Him. They are looking for a person who is larger than life, who is overpowering and charismatic, who displays mighty acts, and who offers punishment to those deserving it. That is what makes sense to most people. And that is exactly what the Beast in the Last Days will be like. He will appear as a superhero to save the world.

Revelation 13:11-18 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

When you cannot buy or sell without the mark of the Beast, will you choose to worship the superhero so you can eat, or will you choose to go hungry and worship the humble, gentle Christ? Beware of the deception and politics that will cause the majority to worship the Beast. Stay focused on Jesus and His Word. Be filled with the Holy Spirit so you will have wisdom, insight, and discernment. Be willing to suffer persecution and death on earth rather than eternal suffering in Hell.

In the meantime, as strange as it may seem, God’s way to save the world also includes using us as His ambassadors. We, who are weak but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, are to preach and minister the message of Christ to a world that needs to be saved.

By the power of His Spirit abiding in us, we can reflect Jesus Christ to the world. The Holy Spirit will make us like Jesus, humble and gentle in relating with others, loving even to those who don’t deserve it, and forgiving rather than vengeful.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Yes, to us, God chose a strange way to save the world, but it demonstrates God’s supernatural wisdom and almighty power. God sent His only Son, as a baby, to humbly and gently love us, to forgive us, to take our punishment upon Himself; thereby, saving us from the wrath of God and the destruction that is coming upon the world.

The way of salvation is through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Today, salvation is a free gift of God to anyone who will make Jesus Lord and Savior of their lives. Someday, He will destroy this evil polluted world. But right now, He is preparing a place for all those who will believe and call on Him to be saved.

If you want to be saved, believe in Christ’s atonement for your sin on the cross. Confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, repent of your sin, and give Him your life through baptism so you can be born again of His Spirit and have eternal life in heaven.