“Superheroes were born in the minds of people desperate to be rescued.”
― Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Circle
We love stories with heroes in and in particular we like superheroes. We like our superman, batman and Ironman. We like our avengers, our guardians of the galaxy and our x-men. We like the idea that there could be a hero, that there could be someone or a group of people who could defend our planet and defeat evil. We like stories where evil is crushed and the captives are set free.
Stories with superheroes are quite simple – good vs evil. A fight, a victory and a celebration. They can often be the mindless action movie or comic. But the story resonates with us.
I like this quote from a book I have yet to read but hope to:
“We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.”
― Grant Morrison, Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
What do these cape wearing, flying space mutants remind us of? That we are people in desperate need of rescue. I don’t know where Grant Morrison goes with his book, he may venture forth into the idea that we can be superheroes ourselves or he may point to a better reality – that we all need a superhero and it’s not deep inside us.
We all need a hero. We all need to be rescued and most of us aren’t really sure what we need rescuing from, but there seems to be a deep connection with these stories.
Imagine if we had a superhero who could help us and save us? Who could rescue us and set us free?
The heroes we watch and read about aren’t perfect. They have their flaws, their weaknesses and sometimes they really mess up. But in the midst of all that they keep pointing us towards our greatest need: we need a perfect superhero, one who doesn’t mess up and who saves us.
It’s quite easy for me to say that all the superheroes point to our need of the perfect saviour: Jesus.
But the difference is that Jesus doesn’t come flying down whenever we call and he doesn’t always stop suffering when we are going through it. He doesn’t always stop the bad stuff.
So is Jesus a really rubbish Superhero?
There is a story in the Gospel of Luke where a paralysed man gets lowered down on a mat through a roof to get to Jesus. Jesus does a remarkable thing which astonishes everyone. He says:
“Man, your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus hadn’t healed the man – not physically. He instead went straight to the heart of the problem, sorting out this mans sin was more important than physically healing him.
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. (Luke 5:23-25 ESV)
This is why Jesus is the best superhero.
He sorts out the real problem, the heart problem and gives us what we truly need. He sees a sickness that isn’t always obvious and he heals that, he sees the brokenness that others can’t see and he binds up their hearts.
But he doesn’t leave it there. He will come back and the suffering that we may be going through will stop…
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8
No pain, no more death, no more suffering. That’s what our hero does. That is why Jesus is the better superhero. He is the one that all superheroes point to.
And we are in desperate need of that, all of us yearn for that hero whether we realise it or not.