The Problem with Heroes – Both Super and Human!

Superheroes are in vogue. Captain America, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Storm, and the other X-Men and members of the Justice League have made the leap from comic books and video games onto the silver screen and into the hearts of our young people. The reason is clear. Politicians, celebrities, and other should-be role models have let them down. So they turn to fantasy, which provides a pleasant diversion, but the problem is that none of it is real, and what our planet needs now like never before is a genuine Savior who is able to deliver us from destruction. My first hero was Superman. With towel cape I would leap from the sofa pretending I could fly like him. Only later did I learn that George Reeves, who played my hero on television, committed suicide. But, then, that’s the  fatal flaw of all our would-be heroes. They’re broken people just like we are!

Luke’s Portrait of Jesus: Savior (pt 2)

So where do we turn for salvation? The Greeks looked to their gods who gave them heroes like Ulysses, Jason, and Achilles. But neither they nor the gods were real, and they too had their flaws. Achilles was fatally wounded in his heel, the one part of his personality his mother failed to protect when she dipped him in the River Styx as an infant. Luke, to whom we looked for answers in our last study, now takes all our dashed hopes and shows how they are perfectly fulfilled in Jesus our Savior. In part 1, He explained how and why Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth. In this study, He gives us two more reasons for His Incarnation –

2) To Provide An Example. Luke’s audience, the Greeks, cared about logic, order, and perfection. We see this in the precision of the Parthenon, the glory of the Olympics, and philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. But their efforts did not lead to the salvation they longed for. So Luke the evangelist introduces us to a Savior who is perfect in every way. At His birth, the angel assured Mary of His holiness, “The power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) At age 12, He visited the Temple and proved His brilliance by amazing the scholars with his insight and humility. (Luke 2:47) At His execution, Pilate His judge admitted, “I find no fault in this Man!” The point is: If you’re looking for Someone perfect in body, mind, and spirit and able to impart the same virtues to you, Luke says, “Turn to Jesus, for He is a Perfect Example and the Savior  you’ve been longing for!”

But the reason I love Him is His compassion. Luke portrays Christ’s humanity, including people who are found nowhere else in the New Testament: Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents; the shepherds of Bethlehem; Simeon and Anna who rejoiced to see the newborn Savior in the Temple; Zaccheus the  tax collector who held  a dinner for Him; and the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Why include so many common people? To illustrate how much the King cares for us regardless of our social position! We also learn of the high value Jesus placed on  the women who followed Him like Joanna, Susanna, and Mary, his financial supporters (Luke 8:3); His friends Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38); and the widow who gave her mite at the Temple (Luke 21:1). This is all meant to emphasize the fact that Jesus is a Great Savior, not of the rich and powerful, but anyone who calls on Him for salvation, which is the third and most important reason Jesus came to earth.

3) To Purchase Our Salvation. The key word used 17 times in Luke’s gospel is “save” or “salvation.” One example is Luke 9:56 where James and John, “the sons of thunder,” want to call down fire from heaven because the Samaritans do not welcome Jesus to their town. Jesus rebukes them saying, “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke also includes 19 parables that are found in no other gospel, several of them focusing on His work of salvation like the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the lost (prodigal) son. Consequently, if you’re ever tempted to think that you’re too bad to be saved, think again! For this is why He came.  Luke 19:10 is the key verse of this book where Jesus gives us His personal assurance:  “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” And though  salvation is free to us, we must not forget that it cost His life to pay for our sins.

Furthermore, His salvation is complete. It forgives our sins, heals our diseases, provides wisdom for our journey, and defeats the evil of this world. How does He achieve these superhuman feats? By the same power with which He walked on water, cast out devils, and rose from the dead: His Spirit who lives in us! Luke is the gospel of the Holy Spirit, Jesus modeling  from start to finish how to live life by His power. Luke 4:1 – “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” It was also His parting word to His disciples: “Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” What a crucial  reminder as we face the uncertainty of a new year! We can face it with confidence because our Savior is empowering us, leading us, and protecting us from evil of every kind. May His name be praised!

(Click here for the full audio version of this message)

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