Jesus Christ Superman
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 9, 2006

 

Main Passage: Psalm 84 (NLT)

 

You’re probably familiar with his story. Most people today are. He’s one of the most recognizable, most influential, and most popular heroes of our time. I’m talking, of course, about Superman… the Man of Steel… the Last Son of Krypton.

But in case you’re not familiar with him, let me give you a bit of a biography. Superman was born on the planet Krypton, to the highly respected scientist and community leader, Jor-El, and his wife Lara. And they named their son Kal-El. Well, Jor-El, being a scientist, discovered that the planet Krypton was doomed… it was geologically unstable, and before long it would be destroyed. And he went to the Kryptonian Council to warn them, but they would not listen. They thought he was exaggerating the danger.

But Jor-El was convinced his planet was doomed, and so he set out to build a rocketship to save his family. But the end came sooner than he expected, and he had only build a model rocketship big enough for his infant son, Kal-El. And so Jor-El and Lara placed their young son in the rocketship and sent him into space on a journey towards Earth, just moments before Krypton was destroyed.

Well, eventually the rocketship landed on Earth, just outside of a small rural community called Smallville, and he was found by a young married couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who could not have children of their own. And so they adopted this young boy as their own and named him Clark, and took him to live with them on their farm.

Well, as the boy grew, he began to show extraordinary abilities… super speed, strength, heat vision, X-ray vision, invulnerability… he even gained the ability to fly. And it was all because of Earth’s yellow sun. Krypton had had a red sun, and so the inhabitants of Krypton had no special powers. But with exposure to the yellow sun of Earth, Clark gained these superpowers.

Well, eventually, Clark moved to the huge city of Metropolis, where he began to work as a reporter for the newspaper, The Daily Planet, and he donned a secret identity as Superman, who has since saved the world countless times.

So that’s just a quick summary of the Superman legend, and there have been several variations of that throughout the past 70 years as Superman has appeared in the comics, on the radio, in three live-action TV series, in five movies, in several cartoons, newspaper strips, and video games. There’s even a heritage commercial that features the young Canadian artist Joe Shuster inventing Superman. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t know at least a little bit about Superman.

So this morning I thought we’d do something a little different. For the past couple of months, we’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy material here, and so we’re going to do something a little lighter here this morning. We’re going to look at Superman and we’re going to see what we can learn from him about Jesus.

Because a lot of people have noticed some parallels between who Superman is and who Jesus is. In fact, I was already planning on talking about this when I opened the newspaper last weekend as saw an entire page devoted to the spiritual elements in the latest Superman movie. Both Jesus and Superman have their origins apart from this world, both of them came to earth as babies, both of them possess extraordinary abilities, both of them stand for truth and justice, even Clark Kent’s adopted mother Martha was originally called Mary. And as for the name Kal-El… well, “El” is a Hebrew form of the word for “God” and was often used in the Bible in titles referring to God… such as in Exodus 6:3 where God identifies himself as El-Shaddai, which means The Almighty God.

Hey, I even read one review which paralleled Kal-El’s Kryptonian family with the Holy Trinity. And you remember who played Jor-El in the 1978 movie, don’t you? Marlon Brando, the God-Father himself.

Now, I’m not saying that Superman is supposed to be an allegory about Jesus. In fact, both the Canadian artist and the American writer who created Superman were Jewish. So while their Jewish faith may have played a part, I doubt that they were trying to portray Jesus. So yes, we are taking some liberties here this morning.

So let’s get to it. I just mentioned that Marlon Brando played Jor-El in the 1978 movie with Christopher Reeve. Brando died about two years ago, but they took some of his dialogue from the first movie and used it in the movie that’s currently in the theatre. And this is one of those scenes…

Clip – They only lack the light to show the way. (from Superman The Movie. The rest of the clips in this sermon are from Superman Returns)

 

How is Superman an expression of Jesus?

1. They are both described as “the light” that overcomes the darkness.

“Even though you’ve been raised as a human being you’re not one of them. They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all – their capacity for good – I have sent them you… my only son.”
~ Jor-El

There’s a lot of darkness in the world… both in our world, and in the world of Metropolis. And just as Jor-El sent his son to earth to fight against the darkness, God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to overcome the darkness. He is our hope. He is the light that shines through the darkest night.

John 12:46 (NLT)
“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.”

And you know, darkness cannot overcome light. Light always overcomes darkness. So where there is light, there is always hope.

Psalm 27:1 (NLT)
The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The LORD protects me from danger—so why should I tremble?

1 John 1:5 (NLT)
God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.

So Jesus… who is God… is the light. And what does light do? It reveals. It shows you the way in which you should go. Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night and it’s dark and you can’t see a thing? Oh, you run into this, you knock that over, you stub your toe… but when you turn on the light, all of a sudden you can make your way safely.

John 8:12 (NLT)
Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

2. Not everyone recognizes who they are.

Clip – Unidentified Bogey

Notice how Superman was referred to in that clip? He was an “unidentified bogey.” Of course, that was the comment made by someone looking at a radar display. But in many ways, Jesus is an unidentified bogey. There are those who simply don’t recognize Him. He’s the Almighty God, the Creator of everything that exists, the Hope of the World… but to some, he was just a good teacher or a moral leader long ago. They don’t really recognize who He was and who He is. And so they give Him no place in their lives. Even during his earthly ministry, Jesus performed all sorts of incredible miracles that should have made it obvious… and he even claimed to be God in His teachings… but still, He was just an unidentified bogey to those who refused to believe in Him.

John 1:10 (NLT)
But although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came.

And then, just like Superman, even when they are recognized, sometimes they are rejected…

 

3. They are both rejected by some.

Of course, Superman was rejected by all of his enemies. Most notably, Lex Luthor. Luthor wanted to have power. He wanted to be in charge. And he resented and rejected Superman because he was a threat to that power. Notice how Lex Luthor, played by Kevin Spacey, describes Superman in this scene from Superman Returns…

Clip – Do you know the story of Prometheus?

“Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don’t share their power with mankind.”
~ Lex Luthor in Superman Returns

Lex Luthor rejected Jesus because he wanted power for himself. Even though he denied it, he really did want to be a god himself. And Jesus has people who reject Him for the same reason… they want to be in charge. They want the power for themselves. They don’t want to acknowledge that Jesus is God because that means that they will have to give up control to Him. That was true for the Pharisees, and it’s true for many people today.

But it wasn’t just the big bad guys who rejected Superman. He even experienced rejection from the love of his life… the one closest to him… Lois Lane.

Clip – Where did you go?

“The world doesn’t need a Saviour… and neither do I.”
~ Lois Lane in Superman Returns

Even Lois rejected Superman and told him he wasn’t needed. How do you think that made him feel? Probably the same way that Jesus felt when he was abandoned by his disciples and even betrayed by one of them. All of that happened just before the crucifixion. But centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be rejected and betrayed even by his closest friends.

Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT)
He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.

How about you? Have you rejected Jesus? Are there times when you choose to turn your back on Him and follow your own path instead? How’s that working out for you? Let me just remind you, Jesus loves you. He wants the best for you. He knows everything. He’s all powerful. And everything He has done, He has done for you. So if you have turned your back on Him, then let me urge you to turn back to Him today.

Which really sets us up for this fourth comparison…

 

4. They both welcome us to trust in them.

Back to that discussion between Lois and Superman…

Clip – “Lois Will You Come With Me?”

“Lois, will you come with me?”
~ Superman in Superman Returns

At the very beginning of that clip, Superman gave Lois an invitation. He said, “Lois, will you come with me?” And you’ll notice, it was an invitation. It wasn’t a demand… he left the choice up to Lois. She could have refused if she wanted to. But even though she still had some doubts and questions, she decided to accept his invitation.

“Lois, will you come with me?” And Jesus gives that same invitation to you and me. Except he doesn’t call you Lois. He calls you by your own name. In Isaiah 43 he says…

Isaiah 43:1 (NLT)
“I have called you by name; you are mine.”

And He calls each one of us by name to come to Him and trust Him.

John 12:26 (NLT)
“All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me…”

Matthew 11:28 (NLT)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

But the choice is yours. Will you trust Him? Will you come to Him? Will you accept His invitation, or will you continue to reject Him?

 

Well, a while ago we saw a clip of an airplane in distress. Let’s see what happens next…

Clip – Airplane Rescue

Okay, that looks bad. How in the world is Superman going to save them? Well, I’m not going to ruin it for you. You’ll have to see the movie for yourself. But, do you have any doubt that Superman will find a way? He always finds a way. He’s always there to rescue those in distress. And so while that’s an exciting action sequence, you know the whole time that Superman is going to come through and save those on board that plane. I don’t think I’m really giving anything away by saying that. We all know that Superman is going to come through, right? The only question is, “How?”

Well, Jesus always comes through, too. So that’s another way in which Superman is an expression of Jesus…

 

5. They can both be counted on to come through for us.

Sometimes we have no idea how Jesus can help, but then He does. And so you can put your trust in Him. Because no matter how much turmoil you face and no matter how violently life throws you about, He will rescue you. In Psalm 50, God says…

Psalm 50:15 (NLT)
“Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

And David wrote in Psalm 56…

Psalm 56:13 (NLT)
For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.

 

You know why Jesus can be counted on to come through in every situation? Because He knows everything about us. He knows exactly what we’re going through. He hears our cries for help. And He’s always there to save us.

 

6. They both hear our cries for help and respond to them.

Let’s go back to that little flight that Superman took Lois on…

Clip – “I hear everything”

For me, that was the most powerful part of the movie. That one thing Superman said…

“You wrote that the world doesn’t need a Saviour… but everyday I hear people crying for one.”
~ Superman in Superman Returns

The world does need a Saviour. In the DC Universe, that’s Superman. For us, that’s Jesus, who is God. Let me give you an example from the Old Testament when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush. If you recall, at that point of time, the Israelites were being forced to work as slaves in Egypt, and they were being treated very harshly. And so this is what God tells Moses…

Exodus 3:7-8 (NLT)
“I have heard their cries for deliverance… Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come to rescue them…”

God was very much aware of what was going on. He had not turned His back on His people. He heard their cries for a Saviour, and so He set in motion a plan to save them. And of course Moses was a big part of that plan to bring the Israelites out of slavery and into the land God promised them.

Why would He do something like that? Because that’s the kind of God He is. He answers our cries for help. He doesn’t ignore us; He responds with power and love.

Psalm 65:5 (NLT)
You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Saviour. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.

You know, there was something else that I noticed in that last video clip. While Superman was holding Lois high above the city of Metropolis, he looked out across the city. And in his eyes you could just see the care and compassion that he had for the people of that city. And that’s the seventh way that Superman is an expression of Jesus to us…

 

7. They both have a great compassion for those in need of a Saviour.

Superman looked out across the lights of the city and he couldn’t help but to have compassion for all the people of Metropolis. Well, that reminds me of when Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and had the same kind of reaction…

Luke 19:41 (NIV)
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…

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

It’s the compassion of Superman that compels him to do everything he can do to help those in distress. And it’s the compassion of Jesus that compels Him to do everything He can do to save you and me… even to the point of dying on a cross.

 

Okay, so those are some of the ways in which I see Jesus in Superman. And there are other ways, too. For example, you can see a representation of the crucifixion and the resurrection in this movie… but I don’t want to give too much away. But when you see it, think about that.

And realize that, yes, Metropolis has a superhero who can always be counted on to do what is right and what is good and who always comes through. Metropolis has a superhero, and so you do and I… Jesus Christ. He’s all-loving, He’s all-good, He’s all-powerful… and He’ll always come through for you.

Let’s pray.


Jesus, thank you for watching out for us. Thank you for the assurance that we are never alone, but that you know about every little thing that we face in life. Thank you for loving us enough to care about those things and for responding to our cries for help. I want to pray for all of us here this morning, that we will grow to trust you more and more.

Just keep your eyes closed for a minute. We talked about how some people haven’t recognized who Jesus is and how others have flatly rejected Him. If that’s where you’ve found yourself, but this morning you would like to turn around and accept His invitation to come to Him and place your trust in Him, then you can pray something like this…

Jesus, thank you for your great love for me. I know that you are the all-powerful God who wants the best for me… but to be honest, I’ve struggled to put my trust in you. And I want that to change. This morning I decide to place my trust in You, because I know you are trustworthy and that you will always come through. I pray that you will increase my faith, and teach me more everyday what it means to walk in the light of Your presence.

 

 

 

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