1 Peter 3:18 | The Hero of Spirit and Life
What are superheroes? Well does it not say it all in the name… Superman! They are super human. Better than humans. They have that “X-factor”. Something that makes them better. In the past these superheroes were part God, part man. Hercules son of Zeus the strongest man to ever live. Now there are people in general culture who believe we will one day evolve these super human abilities. Yes your descendants might one day be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. For me in the here and now I have only evolved the super human skill of digesting cheese (that is no joke click the link). When I watch TV or Movies then I know that every “hero” makes the superhuman look easy. Falling, shooting, hacking computers there is no limit to their pain tolerance, hand eye coordination, or knowledge. Those are heroes that are championed everywhere we look. People who can save us from the enemy. Jesus had those kinds of skills for real.
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:14-15 ESV
The disciples most closely following Jesus wanted him to kill the Romans and become king as well. Jesus blows up this idea because unlike the superheroes that mankind craves Jesus is not here for the temporary things of this life. Jesus refuses to use his powers the way they wanted, the way they expected, or the way they demanded.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:60-63 ESV
What! The “flesh is no help at all”, did he just say that superman can’t help? Did he just say an army behind the most powerful superhuman ever to walk the earth is of no help? It begs the question then help to do what? Certainly Jesus could have kicked Rome out of Jerusalem. Jesus had another agenda for his super human skills and the people of then and the people of today do not like that agenda. The plans that Jesus had that he spoke about in this conversation with the disciples involved something more than human. These plans involved “spirit and life”. Jesus did something crazy. He did something Heroic. He allowed the evil of this world to kill him. He willingly allowed himself to die because as he said “the flesh is of no help” in solving this problem.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth when Judas, the one out of the Twelve, showed up, and with him a gang of ruffians, sent by the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders, brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a signal with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him. Make sure he doesn’t get away.” He went straight to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The others then grabbed him and roughed him up. One of the men standing there unsheathed his sword, swung, and came down on the Chief Priest’s servant, lopping off the man’s ear. Jesus said to them, “What is this, coming after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. What you in fact have done is confirm the prophetic writings.” All the disciples cut and ran. Mark 14:43-50 (MSG)
Jesus could have started a war. He could have let Peter go all Jack Bauer on those men, and Peter wanted that war. Rome could have fallen. The world could have fallen on their knees before the feet of Jesus. That moment could have been it. But Jesus refused. He stopped Peter and all the disciples “cut and ran”. What is so heroic or super human about this? Would it not be more heroic to become king and force all the world into peace ending the evil we see? Would not a King Jesus be better than the evil we see in wars of divided mankind? Let us pause before answering that question and see the birth announcement of Jesus by the angels themselves.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 ESV
Did you hear that women and men, boys and girls, workers and executives, Kings and homeless? Jesus was born to save and he saved everyone through his death. If he had become King at that moment when the world came to kill him then he would have been king over a people of death. Savior would not have been his title. Jesus came not to be a king over dead people, but to be king over a regenerated and living people. Jesus came not to be King over Rome, but to be King over death itself.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14 ESV
Remember Jesus telling the disciples that he was here for “spirit and life” and the “flesh is no help at all”? Jesus knew what he was doing. His death gave me life. His death covered over my shame and my sins. His death reconciled me to God who created me. Jesus the most heroic super human savior the world will ever see died in my place that I might be made alive in the spirit.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 ESV
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