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On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew two planes into the Twin Towers in New York city, one plane into the Pentagon, and another plane into a field in Pennsylvania due to the heroic efforts of a few on board. There were many that ran into the burning buildings to save lives, but lost their own in the process: 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 NYPD officers, and 37 Port Authority Police Officers. Over 3,000 people were murdered on September 11; and the consistent echo since the Fall reverberates loudly, “Humanity needs a Hero!” Those brave souls who ran into these buildings while others were running out should be applauded and remembered favorably. What a clear display of the image of God! But, humanity still has a problem, the problem of evil. And this problem is not merely pervasive in terrorists, it’s pervasive in the highest rung in society to the lowest corner, it’s pervasive where we can see–such as in terrorists–and where it is hidden beneath an innocent veneer–such as in children. The death of Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda members brings a level of justice, yet evil remains. What is the answer as 9/11 reminds and the daily news silently screams “We need a hero?!”
Maybe we need a fictitious hero; a super-type to inspire us to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps? Maybe Superman is that hero? After all, he flies, is super strong, shoots heat rays out of his eyes, loves humanity, etc. Surely a Super-man can inspire mere men to be “super” men? The problem however is that Superman has been in the U.S. since 1938. Like in real society, whenever Superman overcomes an evil person or ideal, a repackaged evil simply replaces it. As a result, even Superman never seems to run out of villains to conquer. Plus, society has not grown less evil since Superman offered his help, but has actually grown worse.
Maybe we need a king, politician, or a super-moral individual, or someone else entirely? The problem is that kings, politicians, morally superior humans, other human examples, etc. have lived, died, and inspired others; but these others merely lived and died as well, yet the problem of evil still remains. Our hero, the answer for the human sin problem thus must be outside of humanity. God must be our hero. Humanity has a God-sized problem that we cannot possibly save ourselves from. The Bible however, God’s revelation to humanity, has the answer: God the Son incarnate. He shares God’s identity with Him while simultaneously being fully human: God the Son incarnate. One of the best summaries of this reality is 1 Corinthians 8:6:
*but for us [there is] one God, the Father,
from whom [are] all things and we for him,
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom [are] all things and we through him.
*The above verse comes from two Jewish monotheistic identifiers in the Old Testament: the Shema’ (Deut. 6:4) and God’s sovereign creating work (Isaiah 42:5; Col. 1:16-17). *The Shema’–“the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”–is being transformed by the apostle Paul here to include Jesus Christ. *Notice that Paul says that “there is one God, the Father” while in the 3rd line also saying “and one Lord, Jesus Christ.” *Paul clearly formulates the Shema’ to include Christ in Yahweh’s identity (the God of the Old Testament). Paul however doesn’t stop here. *He also includes Jesus Christ in the sovereign creating and sustaining work reserved for Yahweh alone in the Old Testament (Isaiah 42:5). *These two Jewish identifiers concerning their worship of Yahweh had been previously applied to no other person in history. Jesus however as God the Son incarnate is God; and thus, is capable of sharing worship with God. As a result, upon the cross, we have a human, the God human, who does what no other human has done or could do, redeem humanity from evil. Even though sin has separated humanity from their previous joy of perfect relationship with God (Gen. 2-3); Jesus revealed that He himself is the only Way back to the Father (John 14:6). Christ’s work is evident today in His church as drunks, adulterers, idolaters, murderers, etc. come to Him and are redeemed from these evil realities. In Christ, we also have the hope of future salvation (1 Peter 1:3-5). All humans who come to God through Christ will be saved from sin’s penalty, will gradually be redeemed in this life from sin’s power, and will surely be saved from the presence of sin in the end (Rom. 5). Thus, the hero that humanity so desperately cries out for is not merely a human or fictitious example, but a Jewish carpenter who is God the Son incarnate. He died and rose from the dead to satisfy His Father’s wrath toward evil humanity while also reconciling repentant sinners to God (Rom. 5:9-11).
So, when humanity cries out for a hero: a king, politician, celebrity, moral example, etc., let us give them no other save God the Son incarnate: Jesus Christ! Where else can they go but to Him?
What are your thoughts?
*Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 27-28.