“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:12-13
I grew up watching the classic superhero movies like Superman with Christopher Reeve and after school reruns of Batman and Robin. I remember as a kid, while visiting my cousins in Chicago, going to a car museum that had the original Batmobile. To me, at that age, I was looking at what Batman used to save the world. The common denominator in all these classics and in the much-improved visual effects of modern superhero movies is that, unless the superhero shows up, the city was doomed. Now with every superpower for good, there was a superpower for bad too. Lex Luther, the Joker, and the Penguin (I am really dating myself.) These villains were evil, and they always had lots of money. Their intent was controlling the city with crime, chaos, and fear. The only one who stood in their way was the superhero.
If I didn’t know better, I would be certain that Marvel and DC Comics were on the planning committee for 2020. Virus, riots, politics, shutdowns, virtual school from home, masks, and tension that is thicker than the block of cheese on my chef salad at lunch today. Our screens paint a picture of crime, chaos, and fear. Messages of hope, restoration and healing are being drowned out by hate and misguided emotional outbreaks that cause destruction and jam the communication that could bring healing. Can we just restart the year? As much as we may like to do that or just jump to Christmas, we simply cannot. It may feel like we could use a superhero.
When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey the people saw their superhero. Jesus was riding His version of the Batmobile. Nobody could match Jesus. Everyone who tried to trip Him up got tripped themselves. He cast out demons, healed sickness, and even told death where to go a time or two. But the people who were shouting Hosanna were consumed with the fear of oppressive Rome. They needed a superhero.
Jesus was not there to heal a nation. His assignment was not to take out the Romans. He was there to set men free from sin. His journey on that donkey was not to wipe out the bad guys, get rid of a virus, or stop political division. His quest was the cross. There on Golgotha, their enemy would be defeated. Our enemy too. Sin and death would be defeated, and our lives would have the opportunity to take on a power that any superhero wished he or she had.
Our scripture today was not written in the absence of conflict. There was still political oppression. There was still death from disease. Injustices continued to be part of the flawed fabric of society. The villain remained, but no longer more powerful than the people who know Jesus. Rome was not the problem. Sin was the problem. Jesus knew the problem and that took Him to the cross. His death and His resurrection gave Him and us the ultimate victory over sin and death. Anyone who believes this and puts their trust in Jesus will be saved and filled with the His power. You may not get a Batmobile, but you do get the Holy Spirit. It is a game changer!
Peter and John were not in need of a superhero. He was already there and living inside of them. The more time they spent with Jesus, the more they became like Jesus. The people saw that they had been with Jesus. I know 2020 is like a superhero movie. Chaos, crime, fear and panic. The Bat Signal is flashing in the skies. People are crying out for hope and they need help. The election is not going to solve the issue of sin. The virus may be gone someday, but that will not eliminate sickness and disease. Chaos will still be present and destroying cities and families. People can protest and God forbid do worse, but that will not heal hearts infected by hate, disappointment, and hurt. Only Jesus can do that, and He did on the cross. His resurrection defeated death. He through the Holy Spirit now lives in us. His power that won the victory is present in His Church and that is you! It is up to us to walk in His power, His love, His grace and wisdom and share it with the world just like Peter and John.