As I was contemplating the days after the resurrection outlined in Luke 24, the caring behavior of Jesus struck me. Here he was, resurrected and all-powerful, immortal and finished with the great sin-battle, and yet what is he doing? He is more super than all superheroes and yet he is condescending to mortal, fallible people to offer them encouragement and wisdom. I find it so very lovely. So very humbling. So typical of our Lord, who, though King of Heaven and Earth, still considers himself “among you as the one who serves.” Mt. 28:18, Luke 22:27 I believe this is well worth our consideration today.
Unlike man’s version of superheroes, the Lord Jesus does not accomplish his great deliverance amid cheers of thanks, and then ride off into the sunset. I believe his behavior after the resurrection is carefully described for us so that we are reassured that he is “always with us, even until the end of the age.” Mt. 28:20 It is emphasizing that even after he ascends to the right hand of his Father, he is deeply involved in the process of saving individuals who want to respond to him. He is there – in specific people’s, specific lives – suiting specific blessing to specific circumstances. Let me let the text tell it’s own story. Here are the actions of our Lord shared in the Emmaus account of Luke 24, coupled with my comments on what they reveal about his work in our lives:
“Jesus himself approached” v.15 – note his initiation of interaction
“and began traveling with them” v.15 – he meets us where we are and walks with us
“”their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” v.16 – it is not always easy to recognize his presence in our lives, he does not arrive with fanfare
“he said to them, What are these words..?” v.17 – he asks about our concerns, worries, and sorrows
“and he said to them, ‘What things?'” v.19 – he patiently continues to probe our hearts as he listens carefully
“and he said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe…'” v.25-26 – he responds by gently rebuking our misunderstandings of God’s ways and sets our thinking straight
“he explained to them all things…” v.27 – He uses God’s word (which we often think we already know) to share His great wisdom to counteract our foolishness
“he acted as though he would go farther” v.28 – He is gracious and does not impose himself on us – we must desire and ask for his continued presence
“He went in to stay with them” v.29 – When asked, he abides with us
“He reclined at table with them” v.30 – In that intimate place of our invitation he reveals himself to us
“He took bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them” v.30 – He presides over our lives, connects us to his Father, and gives their abundance to us
“Their eyes were opened and they recognized him” v.31 – He opens our eyes to the joy, wonder and beauty of his being who he is – the Son of God himself – and yet serving and loving us!
“And he vanished from their sight” v.31 – He ministers to us in our need and knows when to leave us to grow and mature in the encouragement his presence has afforded us
The creation of superheroes is just a modern version of marketing to the human desire to adore powerful, courageous beings. Throughout history we have exalted heroes like the Greek and Roman champions Ulysses or Hercules, right down to our modern Superman or Batman. But Jesus was real. And we have a long book that is hard to refute which tells us true stories about this amazing hero. And Jesus’ behavior is not the type exalted by man’s myths and legends. Jesus rises above and beyond human imagination. The book of Hebrews tells us he is superior to angels – and we know from the rest of the Bible that angels could take out superheroes (if they were real) any day. But Jesus superiority does not rest only on his superpowers – this is what makes him different. It rests on his goodness. It rests on his willingness to sacrifice for others. It rests on his kindness toward the unworthy. It rests on his justice and mercy. It rests on the fact that he manifested the character of his Holy Father. True, highest good, other-centered love is not a popular trait of manmade superheroes. It is the trait of our Lord Jesus – the appointed and anointed savior of the earth. Perhaps this passage sums up Jesus’ amazingness the best:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And he is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as he has inherited a more excellent name than they. Heb 1:1-4
A real, live superhero that is righteous and worthy of adoration!