Summary: This fun sermon series uses comic-book heroes as modern-day parables, uncovering hidden spiritual messages in the stories of superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spider-man. Most of these sermons are expository, alliterated and have PowerPoint!
Holy Heroes: Thor
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 10/6/2013
If you’re just joining us, last Sunday I explained that Blooming Grove is going to be entering a float in this year’s Halloween Parade in Carlinville. The theme for the parade is Superhero Celebration and we’re looking for brave souls to dress up as superheroes—something that my family has been doing for years—and walk or ride in the parade with us. I’m excited about this parade because I’m convinced that comic-book heroes can teach some valuable spiritual lessons. In fact, I like to think of superheroes as modern-day parables. Jesus used parables—that is, fictional stories—to illustrate spiritual truths. I believe that the stories of comic-book heroes like Batman, Spider-man, Iron-Man and others can help us better understand some very Biblical concepts.
In the comic-book industry there are two powerhouse publishers—DC Comic and Marvel Comics. While Superman is the strongest one there is in the DC universe, Thor is earth’s mightiest hero in the Marvel Universe. Fans of DC and Marvel have debated for decades which superhero is really more powerful—Superman or Thor. In fact, a friend of mine, Josh Boultinghouse, even starred in a short fan-film series titled Super Power Beat Down, which pitted the Man of Steel against the Prince of Thunder. The outcome was determined by fan vote and while Thor put up an epic battle, it was Superman who stood victorious in the end.
While I haven’t personally costumed as Thor, I have made a couple of Thor costumes for my son. Two years after participating in setting the Guinness World Record in Metropolis, our family returned to the Annual Superman Celebration as the Avengers. I dressed as Captain America, my wife was Ms. Marvel, our daughter was Spider-girl, and our four-year-old son was the Mightiest Avenger—Thor. That year, along with a few friends who donned various other Avenger costumes, we entered the costume contest which was held at the end of the celebration. All the costumes were good, but it was little Thor that won us first place in our category and third overall. During the contest, each of us were supposed to walk to the front of the stage and back again so that the judges could get a close look at our costumes, but when Yeshua reached the edge of the platform, he thrust his hammer into the air and shouted, “For Odin and for Asgard!” The crowd went crazy and Yeshua just soaked up the applause. My wife literally had to drag him off the stage, which was just all the more entertaining for the audience.
As the son of a mythological god, Thor does bare some resemblance to Jesus; however, he lacks many of the character traits necessary to make him a compelling Christ-figure. Rather, despite his god-like power, Thor actually has much more in common with you and me. In Marvel’s 2011 film, Thor is portrayed as a brash, headstrong prince set to inherit the throne from his father, Odin. He relishes adventure and craves battle. Driven by selfishness and pride, Thor broke a truce between the Asgardians and their enemies, the brutal Frost Giants, nearly starting a war.
In order to teach his son a lesson in humility, Odin strips Thor of his power and mighty hammer and banishes him to a distant land—Earth. I actually have a clip from the movie that will give you a sense of Thor’s relationship with his father, Odin.
• Next Slide: Thor Banishment Scene
Humbled and humiliated in a distant realm, Thor finally comes to his senses, repents of his foolish ways and learns the value of selflessness. In the end, Thor foils the evil of plots of his jealous brother and is reunited with his father, who welcomes him home with open arms.
The story of Thor, albeit fictional and fantastic, at its core is very similar to a story Jesus once told—a parable about a wayward son and his loving father. We call it the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a short story about a Father’s all-encompassing, incomprehensible love and it illustrates the stages we often go through in our relationship with God. The first of those stages, of course, is rebellion.
Both Thor and the prodigal son rebelled against their respective fathers. Thor defied his father’s orders and endangered the lives of everyone in Asgard. The prodigal son’s rebellion was more subtle, but probably even more hurtful. Jesus tells it this way: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living” (Luke 15:11-13 NLT).