Summary: Unlike Superman, Jesus came to earth... to die. But there are people who reject Jesus' mission. They refuse to accept the idea that Jesus came to die, to be buried and rise again. Why would they do that?
OPEN: (We showed a picture on the screen of George Reeves as Superman with a flowing cape)
Who is this? (Superman)
Of course it’s Superman.
This was THE superman.
He was the strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities beyond those of Superman. This was the hero that I watched as each week I watched for another exciting episode of Superman.
All those other guys that played Superman were pretenders.
They were just actors.
(Turning my back on the audience and facing the picture of Reeves on the screen, I put my fists on my hips - Superman style)
THIS was Superman.
(Pause) Oh, alright. He was just an actor too.
But for 5 years back in the 50’s he reigned as the superhero on TV.
George Reeves was one of original actors who portrayed Superman on TV. Back in 1953, Reeves’ was making an appearance as Superman at a department store when a young fan pulled out his father’s loaded .45 caliber Army Colt and pointed it directly at Reeves’ chest.
Now, why would that young man do that?
Why would he want to shoot Superman?
Because the boy thought that “Superman” couldn’t die.
He’d watched Reeves on TV as bullets bounced off his chest, and he just wanted to see it in real life. But, of course Reeves was only an actor. The bullet WASN’T going to bounce off his chest… and IF he couldn’t think of a way to talking the boy out of shooting that gun, he was going to die.
Moments away from death Reeves coolly told the boy that while the bullet wouldn’t hurt HIM "when bullets bounce off my chest, they might hurt you and others around here."
Superman couldn’t die.
George Reeves did die in 1959, but he REALLY wasn’t Superman.
Superman… couldn’t die!!!
But he did!
20 years ago in 1993 Superman died.
The comics killed him off.
Most people thought it was a gimmick to raise comic book sales.
And it did.
One Comic Book store that usually ordered 50 Superman comics per issue… sold 2200 of this Comic that year. People lined up for blocks outside of stores and waited for hours just to get a copy. And they did this every day for the better part of a month.
The Death of Superman remains the best-selling graphic novel of all time.
The storyline was fairly simple.
There’s a Super Villain named Doomsday (We showed a picture “Doomsday”) and he’d been imprisoned in an abyss far below the surface of the Earth for a long, long time. But one day he got loose and he threatened to annihilate the entire earth.
Now you could tell he was the bad guy because he’s really ugly, and he was really destructive, and he had to be stopped before he destroyed everything on earth. And of course ONLY person who could stop him… and that person was Superman.
But there were several superheroes attempting to defeat this villain. One of them described Doomsday described him as “hate, death and bloodlust personified”. A mother in the comic tells her son that Doomsday is “the devil incarnate ushering in the end of the world!”
(Scott Bayles, “Jesus Is My SuperHero!” sermoncentral.com)
Ultimately, Superman came to save the day.
And he did. He defeated Doomsday.
But in the process… he died.
Superman Died To Save The World.
But that’s just a comic book story.
Hebrews says that Jesus actually did die to save the world
It says: “…we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9
A few verses later we’re told: “Since the children have flesh and blood, (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15
Jesus came to die… for us.
As I mentioned last week - there’s so much imagery about Jesus in the Superman myth that it’s kind of hard to miss. Even non-Christians see and understand that.
A movie a few years ago had Jor-el (Superman’s Krytonian father) say
“They can be a great people, Kal-el, if they wish to be. They only lack the light to show them the way. For this reason… I have sent them you, my only son.”
And the newest Superman movie - “The Man of Steel” - Jor-el says:
“You shall be a God to them.”
So, Superman is supposed to be a reflection of who Jesus was.
But that’s not entirely true.
In the Superman myth, Superman didn’t come to die for us.