(12/23) I have a question for you adults. When you were a child did you have a hero, either fictional or real? Who was it?
I had 3. One was George Reeves, the TV Superman. Faster than a speding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and fought for Truth, Justice and the American Way. The Second, was Clayton Moore and his partner Jay Silverheels, better know as the Lone Ranger and Tonto. The sole surviver of a massacre of
Texas Rangers, nursed to health by Tonto; rode a White horse named Silver, used silver bullets, wore a mask to hide his identity, and always found people in distress, or being bullied and would rescue them and then leave before they could thank him. "Who was that masked man? Why, that was the Lone Ranger!"
The Third was Disney's Guy Williams who played Zorro. The Mexican Robin Hood hero, a bold renegade that marked a Z with his blade, a Z that stands for Zorro. Zorro would rescue those who were mistreated and was always able to evade or escape the soldiers that tried to catch him. I also like Antonio Bandaras' movie version as well.
The Random House College Dictionary defines a Hero as: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualitites (repeat). We usually associate heroes as people who risk their own safety for the benefit of someone else. Sometimes he does so as one taking the place of others. Sometimes he rescues or protects the lives
of others. Sometimes he is someone who gives time or attention for the benefit of others. Several popular songs have been out these last few years about the desire for a hero, or as the song, Wind Beneath My Wings, says, "Did you ever know that you're my hero."
Last week we heard of heroes ;Courageous teachers that gave their lives protecting children in Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Heroes are exceptionally special if they have had a personal impact on or in your life; if they were there when no one else was; if they believed in you when no one else did; if they took the time to invest themselves in you; or if they saved your life; if you watched them stand up for what is right when no one else did or when it was difficult. Heroes
can come in all sizes and shapes. They could be a sports celebrity or they could be a parent, a coach, a teacher, a friend, a police officer, a fireman, or any of the soldiers who make it their life to protect and serve the citizens or of our country.
And, there are times that we long for a hero; times when we want someone to rescue us. Times when we may have gotten into something that was way over our heads; maybe it was a financial debt, maybe it was an addiction that we don't how to break free from and we long for someone to come and rescue us; a Superman, a Lone Ranger, a Robin Hood, or a Zorro.
Maybe we feel our world or our marriage is falling apart. Maybe our secret lives, indiscretions, or stupid decisions have been exposed. There are times when we are trying to juggle to many things and we scream for help because we want a hero to rescue us. The Apostle Paul talks about a time in his life when he felt this way. Listen to His words: "For I know that in me (that
is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do
good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:18-25) Ever feel that way? Anyone feeling
that way now?
When our first parents rebelled and sinned against God, God promised a Hero that would come some day and be wounded as He crushes Satan's head (Gen. 3:15). Throughout the Bible, the hope and expectation of God's people was a Hero Messiah, One anointed by God to come to our rescue; a deliverer, a Savior. We are living in a world dominated by sinful
people; a people of hurt and pain, a world that has nothing to offer outside of this life; a world in which Satan runs free. And, we are waiting for a Hero to come and rescue us, and make the wrong right, and free us from Satan's bondage and the power of our sinful nature and give us peace and hope and life. We need a Hero that will come and rescue us. Isaiah 35:3-4 says,
"Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you."
What does this have to do with Christmas? Everything! The Prophet Isaiah tells us that the Child who would be virgin born and the Son that was to be given would be characteristically called, The Mighty God or literally, The Strong Hero God. He is named El-Gibbor, the Strong, Valiant, Mighty Hero God. (Cp 10:20-21; 49:25-26), "And it shall come to pass
in that day That the remnant of Israel, And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, Will never again depend on him who defeated them, But will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, To the Mighty God."
"Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, And the prey of the terrible be delivered; For I will contend with him who contends with you, And I will save your children. I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know That I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
When Simeon saw the infant Jesus he said, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:29-30)
Joseph was instructed to name Mary's child, his adopted son, Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins. The angels said to the shepherds, that a Savior was born. These very words, Saved, Savior, or Salvation, refer to being rescued from danger or harm. This Child was born, this Son was given to rescue us, to be our hero. To fight whatever
battle, to pay whatever the costs, to face the presence of death and hell to rescue us.
By the way, a personal pet peeve that I have is this; I don't like movies or pictures of Jesus as a skinny wimp. And I have a problem with people who think Christianity is for sissys. Jesus was a man's man, the toughest man who ever lived. He had the courage to honor God no matter what. He stood up to hypocrisy, He valued God's opinion more than man's.
He stood for truth, no matter what the costs. He carried a cross and on it was every sin of every human being that ever lived. He died on that cross to rescue you and me because He is our Strong Hero God. This Christmas season, let's remind ourselves of what He came to rescue us from.
1.) He came to rescue you from the siren song of the world's system. When Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he said this in chapter 2:1-3, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons
of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Like the Pied Piper, the world plays it's siren song and we all follow it. We become the unsuspecting captives of a hopeless system. The world tells us what we should be
doing, wearing, watching, eating, wear our hair, how we should look, and be cool, or hot or whatever the current language is for being fashionable. Here's a serious question, do you like the stuff that is on television? We sometimes get frustrated, or envious if we haven't acquired or achieved what the world says we should have or achieve. Sometimes we go into great debt
following the siren song and the accompanying burden has many of you discouraged. Another serious question, Do you like the way we do Christmas? Why do we do it this way? John says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-16). Most people start smoking, drinking, and doing dumb stuff to be accepted or fit in, or be cool with others. We have become the victums of the world's problems; it's vices, its crime, it's injustices, and its prejudices. Jesus came to rescue us from the siren song of this world. Did He not say?
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). He will show you that real joy, peace, and satisfaction come from trusting God, being content with what we have, serving others, giving, and living for heaven, not in being popular or gathering toys that
will end up at the Goodwill or the landfill. Because He overcame the world, He can enable you to live above the world, and His presence in you will enable you to focus on what is really important. Listen carefully, this world is going to pass away and all that is in it will be destroyed, but what Jesus offers you will last forever.
2.) He came to rescue you from your own selfish sin nature. This is the nature that we were born with. It was passed onto us by our parents and we pass it on to our children, who will pass it on to their children. Look at Ephesians 2 again, "among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh
and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." It's what leads us to do dumb stuff even when we know that it is wrong. It leads us to pursue selfish desires that don't satisfy. It enslaves us to sin. John 8:34 says, Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." Paul repeats this in Romans 6:16, " Do
you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness." We all have this part of us that wants to do or achieve apart from the will of God and that is the def. of sin in a nutshell. I watch my 1 and 2 year old grandchildren that will snatch up what the
other has and run with it saying, 'Mine,' and I have watched them swing fists at each other to protect it and I wonder where they got that. The answer is they were born with it. You were born with it. We are not born as blank slates, & innocent, we are born sinners. As adults we become enslaved to our desires; whether they are possessions, food, sex, pornography, tobacco,
drugs, alcohol, money, popularity, or appearance, etc. Peter says; " While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage." (2 Peter 2:19). But, Jesus came to set us free. Listen: Isa. 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good
tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;" Paul says in Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And our Lord Jesus said, " And you shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, "We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall
be free indeed." (John 8:32-36). Jesus came to empower you to control your sin nature, have victory over it, free from addictions, and enable you to honor God and love others, which is what produces the satisfaction that we are looking for in stuff. John Stossel did a special years ago, about the secret of happiness. He interviewed lottery winners and wealthy people and
concluded that the happiest people were those who served others, those who volunteered to work with the needy or with children. When a person comes to faith in Jesus, and begins to live by His wonderful counsel, His Holy Spirit comes to live in that person to free them from their sinful nature and empower them to live free and joyful lives serving God and others. That's our
3.) He came to rescue you from Satan. Ephesians 2:2-3 says again, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the
lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." In Acts 26:18, our Lord tells Paul that his mission was, "to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are
sanctified by faith in Me." Satan blinds the minds of those who don't know Jesus so they can't see His light and life (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan stops the ears of those who don't know Jesus so they can't hear and understand their need of salvation (Mark 4:15). Satan tells us that the world's way and our own way is the best way to live (Eph. 2:2-3). Satan wants you to live in fear of
death instead of enjoying an abundant life (Heb. 2:14-15). It is Satan who is deceiving people with all kinds of false religions and philosophies (2 Cor. 11). But Jesus came to destroy the power of Satan and set you free to live. Heb. 2:14-15 says, " Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He
might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Jesus' death on Calvary's cross was to pay your penalty for your sins and free you of sin's guilt. Jesus died as our substitutional sacrifice, but death could not hold Him and He rose again, victorious over death, to give
assurance that all who place the3ir faith Him will also be victorious over death. We don't have to live as dead people and we don't have to fear dying. His death renders Satan's power inoperative in the lives of His Children. When that time comes and it will come, when we will be absent from these bodies we will be present with the Lord in the body that He has prepared for us
(2 Cor. 4:16-5:1). He tasted our death, took its sting for us and enables us to live free of Satan's power over us. He is our Strong Hero God.
4.) He came to rescue us from Separation from God. The penalty for following the world's system, our sin nature, and Satan, is separation from God in a Lake of Fire we call Hell. That, my friends, is what death really is. That is the death God warned Adam of in Genesis 2 and Paul repeats in Romans 6:23. There are no second chances after we die. Our
sins have separated us from God and unless we are rescued by a Hero, we will go into eternity separated from God and assigned a place in hell. We have forged our chains of condemnation in this life just as Marley and Scrooge and unless we are rescued we will as Dante says, Abandon all hope when we die (Isa. 59:1; Eph. 2:1-3). The word save or salvation again means to be
rescued from danger or harm and the danger or harm we need rescued from is ultimately the penalty of sin which is condemnation in Hell. John 3:16-18 reminds us that God loves us and sent His Son to rescue us who are already condemned. he came to offer us the greatest gift possible -Life. (John 3:16, Romans 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; John 5:24; Rom. 8:1). He is our Strong Hero God.
We will be with Him and there will be no more death, or sickness, or heartache, no cancer, no pain, no aging; just perfect bodies, no tears or crying, no night, or darkness, or anything that causes grief. We will see His face and know His pleasure and joy for evermore (Psalm 16:11). This is what our Strong Hero God came to rescue us from and for.
5.) He is going to come back to rescue the world and those who will believe in Him and when He does, he will put an end to sin and selfishness, and reign in righteousness and there will peace on earth. The scene in Isaiah 11 and 65 will finally take place when the Strong Hero God reigns and makes a new heaven and a new earth as is pointed out in
Handel's song, Joy to the World.
Listen to this song. Hero, by the Contemporary Christian group, Abandon.
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman