Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Guys and Bad Guys

From Messiah's April 2012 newsletter

At this point in his life, my son is obsessed with superheroes. Spiderman is his favorite. He also enjoys Ironman, Thor, Hulk, and any number of Marvel characters. The DC comic characters Superman, Batman, et. al. are just now entering his radar. Oh, and lest I forget, he’s also quite enamored of the Transformers, those robots who can change into trucks, cars, and motorcycles and fight the evil “Decepticons.”

When we watch a show or read a book featuring superheroes, he always asks me the question, “Who will win? The good guys or the bad guys?” My answer: “The good guys, of course. The good guys always win.” Sure, they get knocked down and out for a time. The bad guys seem to get the upper hand (where would the suspense be in the story if the good guy defeated the bad guy on page one?). But the pummeled superhero inevitably rises from the ashes and comes out on top … victorious. However, in the 1990’s, DC comics killed off Superman in one of the storylines. This led to a series of other superheroes dying in their respective “universes.” But in the end, Superman and the others were brought back to life. We humans have an innate sense of justice and that good must always prevail.

If only that were the case in “real life.” Good doesn’t always prevail. The bad guys often win. The desire for justice goes unfulfilled. We have no superheroes. Instead, we have police and soldiers who protect us and fight for us. But even they cannot completely shield us from tragedy and terror. Even the noblest of police officers and military personnel are fallible human beings and are susceptible to the influence of the sinful nature and the sinful brokenness of this world.

In that sense, we are all “bad guys.” We all deserve the justice of eternal condemnation. The only truly “good guy” who ever lived is Jesus Christ, the God-Man (not the “Superman,” but True God and True Man in the same person!). As True Man, he endured all the same temptations to which you and I are susceptible, yet never once sinned. At the cross, he endured the just punishment for sin as the perfect sacrifice and substitute for the sins of every single person who has ever lived.

As he gave up his last breath, it appeared that Jesus was defeated. The bad guys won. The Son of God was dead. Satan, God’s nemesis from the beginning, seemed to have the upper hand. But on Easter morning, Jesus came out on top, victorious, risen from the dead. The innocent Son of God was vindicated. In his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated the power of sin and death and the forces of hell. Now, all who are baptized into the name of the Triune God and who trust in Christ’s saving death share in his victory. Although they are sinners, they are forgiven because of Christ. Although they are guilty, they are vindicated because of Christ. Although they die, they will rise again to eternal life because of Christ.

The story of Jesus is not a comic book. The story of Jesus is “real life.” Living in the shadow of the cross, it often appears that evil prevails. But living in the light of the empty tomb, the reality is that in spite of our evil circumstances, the one and only truly “Good Guy” has won once and for all. In baptism, his “real life” becomes our “real life.” Come experience and celebrate your “real life” this Easter as we once again hear the Good News proclaimed and as we dine at the “feast of victory for our God.”

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken

No comments: