Saturday

A Hero is Coming

The world needs a hero.

We look all over for one. We make them up in red capes and pressed suits. We find them in stories and movies but they're not real. They don't do anything. We look to our leaders and tell them to save us. We vote for men and women and we think they can make things right.

They always seem to fail us.

Think about all the hero songs. Everyone from Chris Rice to Tina Turner has a hero song. We tell counselors to fix us and doctors to make us well. We try to buy enough things to convince ourselves and delude ourselves away from the terrifying reality that we need, above all other things, a hero. Because we cannot, no matter how great our technology or how magnanimous the personality, make our world right again, rid it of evil, and end the ever deluging tide swell of human suffering.

We remain a people in need.

We need our hero.

And He is coming.

I read the Bible and I see a God who loves us and who made us and loved us so much that He created us with the great power to choose Him or to choose evil. We mostly choose the latter. He was not content to leave us to the just penalty of our decisions. Instead, because of His great love for us who keep choosing evil, He became one of us and lived and breathed and ate and suffered the temptations and limitations and depredations of being human. And when He claimed to be the one we've all been looking for, when He looked at those around Him and said, "I am your hero", they took Him and beat Him and tore the skin form his back. They mocked him and spat upon the face of He who came to save us and the took him and nailed him to a dirty board and stripped our Hero of all the dignity His eternity has earned Him.

And there our hero died.

But our hero did not come merely to die and prove to us how evil we can be. We, locked in a the prison cave of our own evil desires and actions, and guarded by a dragon so fierce and purely evil that he once looked God in the face and told He who created him that he deserved to rule as God.

And that dragon laughed when we nailed our hero to that cross. He laughed because he knew that we would always kill our hero. That we would always choose to destroy ourselves instead of loving one another. That we would condemn ourselves to eternal torment rather than say we needed the hero we search for in every place, in every story, in every one who says they can save us.

But our hero did not stay down. He rose. He conquered death and the grave and by His great love for us slew the dragon who kept us where we thought we wanted to be. And He freed us. He crashed through the walls and broke us from our chains and said to us, "I have set you free. Follow Me."

And He left us to tell the story of what He has done. But He has not left us forever. He is coming. Our hero. My hero. He is coming back to save us and to make all things right. He will not wear a red cape or a dark suit. He will ride instead on a white horse and His name is Faithful and True. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

And He is coming.

He is my hero.

Come soon, my Hero. Come soon.

8 comments:

Mark said...

Two theological questions:

First, what human limitations did Hero suffer?

Second, you mentioned also that you were looking forward to him 'saving' us, so I wonder what you believe happened as a result of his death & resurrection?

Brandon and Jenny said...

Hey Mark.

First - I'm limited to what I know from the Gospels, but Jesus experienced hunger and thirst and exhaustion - all limitations. He is fully man and fully God - the Incarnate Christ - but that does not mean I understand or can explain everything.

He apparently was limited by what He could know at that time as an act of dependence on the Father.

And He suffered pain and death, a clear human limitation.

As a result of His death and resurrection a WHOLE LOT happened. Way more than I have room for in this post. But I'll say a few things.

He was the propitiation for our sins, meaning that He was the holy, perfect atoning sacrifice for our sins that satisfied the holy wrath of God. He became sin for us that we might, by faith in Him, become children of God. He satisfied the justice of God and by doing so enabled us to become justified before a holy God and enter into a relationship with Him.

As a result of His resurrection He conquered death and the grave. He assured, for those who have faith, that they will be resurrected from the dead. He gave us a model of a resurrected body.

I am looking forward to being saved because, in case you have not noticed, things are not very good here on planet earth. I still sin. You still sin. And the world is still fallen. In the book of Revelation we see Jesus returning to rule as King; something that is not happening now. His kingdom is not fully here. And He has promised to make all things new, to redeem His creation and destroy death and sin and wicked people and the Devil by throwing them in the lake of fire for eternity.

I am looking forward to Jesus, my Hero, returning because He said He would. And He said He would come to make a new heaven and a new earth, of which I will be a part.

What are your answers to your own questions?

Brandon and Jenny said...

Oh, I forgot to say thank you for your comments. I also realized after reading my post that it may come across as sort of harsh. I didn't mean it that way. Sorry if I seemed...irritated. I was not. Just typing fast so I could go to bed. :-)

I was in Antigua last week but didn't have your number with me. I had lunch with Paul and Ruth Philipi - maybe you know them.

Mark said...

I would answer as follows:

1. Christ was not limited in any way. The hypostatic union of God and man resulted in a fully human person, capable of experiencing all that man can experience, but retaining the completeness of His Divinity. (John 10:30) That he voluntarily embraced suffering (Luke 22:42), is not evidence that He was limited by His humanity.

2. By His death, the entire world was redeemed (1 Tim 2:6), and the gates of Heaven which had been closed since The Fall were opened again (Rom 5:12-15). Through my baptism I am eligible to partake in everlasting life (John 3:3-5), but in the interim I'm working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

When Christ returns it will not be to save us (which he has already done, 1 John 2:2), but to vanquish His enemies and establish His kingdom on earth.(Matt 16:27-28).

Brandon and Jenny said...

Thanks for your comments, Mark. I confess that when I peer into the Incarnation I quickly come to the end of what I can explain. I agree that Christ is fully man and fully God. It is dangerous ground too explain too much of that mystery away. I agree with the hypostatic union and maybe I will back away from Christ's limitations. I need to tread lightly there.

But I must disagree on your second point. How can you say it is by your baptism that you are eligible for eternal life when "it is by grace you are saved, through faith"( Eph 2:8) and "that whosoever believes in him (Jesus) will not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16) and there is no mention of baptism in Romans 3; we are justified by faith.

I agree that baptism is a required demonstration of our faith. But the physical act of baptism is not what makes us eligible to partake in eternal life.

I also agree that we are working out our salvation, but maybe not how you mean. I was not clear on how I understand sanctification. We have been sanctified through faith (Heb 10:10), we are being sanctified as we walk by faith in this life (Eph 5:25-27, 1 Thess 5:23)), and we will be fully sanctified when we are finally conformed fully to the image of the Son (2 Cor 3:18).

I say by faith because God is the source of our sanctification and we trust Him to accomplish that which He has promised. We do, however, have a responsibility to walk in faith, to love and to obey. That's the good life, right!

That's what I mean when I say Christ will return to save us. He has already saved us but we are still waiting for what is to come. This is not all there is. We have eternity in our hearts and it is not meant to be one of suffering. There is coming a time when death will no longer be. He will return to complete His plan for restoring His creation. The story is not yet over.

I was aching for how things should be and how they will be. And from there my little story came.

Thanks for asking questions. I really appreciate them.

KB said...

Thank you to both y'all. I will be the first to admit my general lack of knowledge on all this, was an interesting debate.

Mark said...

Brandon/Jenny,

Regarding baptism, it is true there are a multitude of passages that refer suggestively to the behavior of those who will be saved. However, these must be understood in addition to the texts which specify the necessity of a water baptism and which declare this act to be not merely symbolic, but as a method of transferring sanctifying grace and regenerating the soul (1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom. 6:3–4, Col. 2:11–12).

Our Lord himself said this as clearly as he could when he said, “Truly, truly, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:3,5). He did not say, “Truly, truly, unless one has a born-again experience and develops a personal relationship with me….” Further, when you look at the context of this declaration by Our Lord, you learn a great deal, for the apostles, after hearing this, immediately asked to be baptized. (John 3:22). You no doubt are familiar with the cliché, “Actions speak louder than words”.

When Ananias baptizes Saul, he declares the baptism to have washed away his sins (Acts 22:16). Paul later writes about the ‘washing of regeneration’ which is poured out on believers (Titus 3:5-6), referencing baptism. The specific Greek word he uses, “loutron”, refers to a Hebrew ritual of washing with water. The examples from scripture requiring baptism by water and attesting to the regenerative nature of a Trinitarian, water baptism are too numerous to list here, and present no conflict if we accept baptism as the first step in faith, and the passages you would reference as ways in which believers should practice their faith.

If, however, we reject the understanding the apostles had of Christ’s teaching (and the universal Christian understand for the subsequent 16 centuries), then we find a conflict between the reformation notions and scripture. On the one hand we have the testimony of scripture, the early fathers, and the constant teaching of the Church since the Ascension (said Feast Day we celebrate today, btw), and on the other hand we have only Luther’s need to deny the authority of the Church, which by necessity involved a rejection of apostolic succession and the sacraments, and thus, the rejection of the sacramental nature of Baptism and the accompanying necessity of baptism for salvation. You could say he ‘threw the baby out with the bath water’.

(continued in 2nd post)

Mark said...

(continued from 1st post)

As to faith and works, we cannot separate the two as though one is essential and the other merely preferable. As we find in James 2:24, we are not saved by faith alone, but rather, by our works. Although Paul regularly condemns works of ‘the law’, it is clear from the context he is referring to the Mosaic law as having lost efficacy post-Christ.

Clearly there were some Jews who liked the idea of the Messiah but still saw some salvific value to their old practices. Paul’s corrections to them, as well as all those passages which emphasize the importance of faith, are not in conflict with the scriptures which require works if we adhere to the orthodox understanding.

However, as was the case with baptism, if we reject the traditional understanding, we find the New Testament in constant conflict with itself, something Our Lord clearly did not envision when He promised them the Holy Spirit. The unity of faith He desires for us is signified in his royal garments, which, being woven without seam (John 19:23), were not torn by those who crucified Him.

In this we can see the faith which was delivered to us whole, from heaven, and which cannot be possessed by anyone who would tear or divide the faith given us by Christ. (You could also see the Romans, Gentiles, in receipt of this garment rather than the Jews, who, had they been faithful, would have wanted to care for him, and another reminder that the faith would be handed to the Gentiles).

This event was foreshadowed in the corrupted old covenant by the division of the 12 tribes following Solomon’s death, which led the prophet Ahias to tear his garment (1 Kings 11:30), by the high Priest Caiphas’ tearing of his own garments (Matt 25:65), and by the tearing in two of the veil in the temple (Matt 27:51). The contrast was not accidental, and represented both the unity of faith Our Lord was leaving behind and the separation from God of the Jews.

The divisions in faith since the reformation should remind us of the divisions among the Jews following Solomon’s death, which ultimately led to the captivity and necessitated Moses’ ascendancy. That’s a way of getting back to your original post about the second coming and my attributing the consequences of the reformation to the hastening of that eventuality.

May God Bless you,
Mark