Isaiah’s prophecy records God’s intention to give Jesus “a portion among the great”, but the reasons why are not reasons we normally have for exalting superheroes.
In popular culture today we esteem Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther and the like because they shine athletic, gorgeous, powerful and likeable. They play into our imaginations and capture stereotypes of what is strong, beautiful, and good. You can even find a “Super Santa” character with bodybuilder physique if you search online.
But God did not glorify Jesus for being like Hollywood’s superheroes.
The verses that precede Isaiah 53:12 portray a different looking hero — one that contrasts sharply with the pop culture image. This part of the prophecy tells us that Jesus will be:
like a tender shoot neither handsome nor majestic despised and rejected held in low esteem a man of suffering wracked with pain pierced and crushed considered punished by God oppressed and afflicted assigned a grave with the wicked like one from whom people hide their faces
Not your likely superhero.
So why would God come to earth in the person of Jesus to suffer so much? And why do billions today celebrate his birth?
The answer is in the purpose of that suffering. He did not suffer for suffering’s sake, but for our sake. Isaiah writes,
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isa 12: 5-6)
Jesus is our superhero because he loves us and took the burden of our sin upon himself. While we should be paying the price for our sin, he has. In that process he suffered enormously, and we identify with his weakness and sorrow and pain. He was human like us.
This season, as we reflect on the babe in the manger, let us remember his purpose for coming, and exalt him.
Dear God, Thank you for loving us to the point of suffering for us in the person of your Son. We can so easily turn you into a superhero like we see in popular media. Help us fathom the depth of suffering you endured so you could by us back from our sinful choices. May we be grateful for your presence in the manger with an eye on the cross.
Throughout this Day: As you reflect about Christmas today, pause to recall why Jesus came in the first place, and thank God for his saving grace.
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