Summary: We see the problems and issues presented in Revelation 2-3. We see the solution presented in Revelation 4-5. The solution is simple: Focus on Jesus Christ our Ultimate Hero.
HERO OF THE CHURCH
INTRODUCTION… Adapted from “Comic Book Character” by David A Zimmerman, IVP 2004, pgs 10-11
Our Western pop culture is shaped by superheroes whether you realize it or not. Superheroes have cemented their place in the American cultural landscape. An average person (or perhaps above average person) could wear Spider-Man underwear while riding a Batman rollercoaster, stop off at the movies and watch Captain America on the big screen, then go home to sit in front of the TV in his Superman or her Wonder Woman robe watching an X-Men DVD, all the while munching on Incredible Hulk cereal in a Green Arrow cereal bowl. It is totally possible and not as absurd as it might sound. Superheroes have become culturally viable and important through movies, TV, books, comic books, trading cards, and clothing.
People have always focused on heroes. When we were in elementary school, we read about Hercules and his battle with the Hydra. We read about other mythical stories in English class such as the flight of Icarus whose wings melt in the sun or the Minotaur guarding treasure. We read these stories in school and we learn about classical literature, the rise and fall of nations, and the fragility of human life. In these stories, we find captivating characters of breathtaking power and creativity… they are the heroes. We learn to like heroes.
People have also focused on heroes in the Bible. Abraham rescues his nephew Lot from capture (Genesis). Moses faced off against all powerful Pharaoh and brought down plagues from the Heavens upon Egypt to free God’s people (Exodus). Joshua bravely led the people to march around Jericho and utterly destroyed it when the walls fell down (Joshua). Samson with his great strength defeated Philistines (Judges). Gideon defeated an army with God’s help by blowing trumpets and smashing jars (Judges). Young David stood up to a giant named Goliath and won with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel). In these stories we find captivating characters with firm faith and mighty miracles of God… they are the heroes. We love our Biblical heroes.
Essentially, every culture and every era of people have their mythic heroes whether they come from literature or from exploits in real life. Heroes are those people of extraordinary ability that reach spectacular heights and goals and overcome all the odds and those that we often see as villains.
The Maccabees rescue and defend Jerusalem.
Beowulf defeats Grendel and saves the kingdom.
St Patrick drives the snakes from Ireland.
Muhammad sieges and captures Mecca.
Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
The Three Musketeers defend king and country.
Joan of Arc leads French soldiers into battle against the English.
Montezuma defends his people against the encroaching Spanish.
Pancho Villa defends Mexican freedom in the Mexican Revolution.
General George S. Patton defeats the Nazis in World War II.
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks defeat Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
People have gravitated to the telling and retelling of stories about people more powerful than they and battling forces more powerful and more malicious than they can comprehend. We love our heroes. We love our heroes in the Old and New Testaments, in classic and modern fictional literature, and in real life history and current events.
Why all this talk about heroes?
For the past five weeks, we have been studying Revelation 2-3 together and we have seen that the letters to the seven churches are Jesus’ diagnosis of the problems facing each of the churches. We have noticed very much that what these churches dealt with we deal with in our lives. We have learned what the problems are, but what’s the solution?
What do you do when you find you have lost basic love for Jesus Christ? (Ephesus)
How do you persevere when troubles and poverty seem to overwhelm your life? (Smyrna, Philadelphia)
When false teaching has wormed its way into your life and drawn you from God, what do you do? (Pergamum)
What do you do when sin makes you sick in your spiritual life? (Thyatira)
What do you do when you are tempted to compromise in your commitment to Christ and just go along with what’s culturally popular? (Sardis)
When you find that you have a lukewarm faith and love that has grown cold, what do you do? (Laodicea)
These seven churches in Asia in chapters 2-3 of Revelation are facing overwhelming odds and obstacles and influences that threaten to wreck their faith. Jesus Christ gracefully sends messages to them with warnings and with a solution for them. We see the problems and issues presented in Revelation 2-3. We see the solution presented in Revelation 4-5.
The solution is simple: Focus on Jesus Christ our Ultimate Hero.
I. JESUS OUR ULTIMATE HERO: THE WORTHY GOD