In the Image of God

The Greatest of All Heroes

The hero saw the airliner, heavy with frozen wings, fall out of the sky. He dived into the icy Potomac, and searched the black waters for those he could save. He brought one after another them to shore and safety. One last excursion proved fatal. The cold water, the intense weariness, and the weight of his clothes dragged him under, and he sank beneath the lapping waves. He was never seen alive again.

Why did he risk his life to save those unfortunate passengers? He probably prepared his entire life for those few precious minutes. His courage was a product of lifelong training. He knew his strength and skill. He knew he could help and did not hesitate for every moment was crucial. Timing is everything. Heroes are made not born.

Who's your favorite hero: Hercules, Odysseus, Moses, or David? Patton said that he preferred that a soldier live for his country, not die for it. Do heroes have to die to save others? Are the lives of the many greater than the life of the one?

A Hero for All Times

A hero fights many battles against many odds to save the one or the many. A hero may fight against
many enemies. Sometimes it is the elements like our hero in the Potomac. Sometimes the enemy is of the animal kind such as Samson and David struggled against. Sometime the enemy is of the microscopic or malignant kind. Sometimes the enemy is of the human kind, an evil man or a raging army. None of these enemies compares to the greatest enemy: death. Portrayed in many humanoid guises this enemy has two minions assisting him: Satan and its offspring, sin.

No hero yet mentioned has ever successful defeated the trinity of sin, Satan and death. Some have forestalled them and given victims a few more years to live. Only one has had the special courage to defeat this trinity once and for all. That hero is Jesus, the Son of God.

How To Be a Hero

How was this Jesus trained to be the world's greatest hero? His training manual was, and is, the Word of God, the Bible. Using God's Word and his relationship with God, he defeated every human enemy, the trinity of evil: sin, Satan and death. He healed all who were sick from the ravages of sin (whether caused by commandment breaking or health law breaking). He fed the hungry. He rescued his apostles from the surging seas. He raised the dead. He did it all. He had no fear because he lived to do good.

What was his motivation? Jesus's love for His Father, Our Father, was the prime motivation for his actions. The bond between them was closer than any two in the history of the world. God's will was his will. His second motivation was his love for mankind (womankind, too). He wanted to see his followers and believers gain entrance to the Kingdom of God. Finally, Jesus knew that the results of his courage would be to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords forever. Jesus believed in living, not dying even though he experienced death for three days and nights. But death could not hold him in its evil clutches.

The Heroes Code

So how did Jesus defeat the trinity of evil: sin, Satan and death. First, he refused to bow down before any of them. He refused to sin against any of his Father's laws. No, he would never be a slave to sin. He coveted freedom by serving God. Then he refused to pay homage to Satan. You know the story of Jesus's temptations in the wilderness after his forty-day fast.

The power of death is sin. The power of sin is Satan. Jesus took upon himself, all the sins of the world - past, present and future - and let other's sins kill him in their place. By that act our hero saved us from all our enemies and their consequences.

Our Hero Saved the World

Now our mighty hero sits on a throne at the right hand of Our Creator-Father and defends us before Him. When we err and confess our sins to God, Jesus presents his sacrifice to God to atone for our folly. He stands before God as our defender. And you know who our accuser is, Satan the diabolical demon.

All other heroes saved a few people in their life times. Our hero has saved the whole world from its alien enemy, Satan. The truly great thing about our salvation is that we are not only saved from death, but we are given eternal life. More, we are raised up to a higher level of human being. We become immortals, made of spiritual matter instead of material matter. No other hero could or would do that for us. Praise God for giving us His Son.

His lineage is from David the hero-king of Israel. But even greater lineage is from Our Father in heaven. So we have a hero of highborn genes. We have also a prince who has the highest moral character.

So whether we call our hero a saint, savior, martyr, paladin, or superstar, he is Jesus, none greater.

(See: Luke 1:47-75, John 4:42, 1 Tim 2:3-5, Titus 2:14, 3:4-8, 1 Pet 1:2-9.)

Victorious Hero

Jesus, our hero, is our champion. We like to root for a winning team and a conquering hero. Well, Jesus is just that. He conquered, of course, the greatest threat to human kind in the universe, the evil alien and demon. No matter how much the deceptive demon pretends to want what is good for us Earthlings, it really wants to alienate us from the Creator, the true and only God, Our Father. It wants us defeated by sin. It will do anything to get us to be wayward - any philosophy, any pleasure dome, and any idol. It wants us dead, forever.

A Loyal Hero

But our hero defeated the damnable demon two millennia ago. Jesus refused to sin; instead he choose loyalty to Our Father in heaven. Not by word or deed did Jesus stray from the rock-strewn road to Life. No idolatry, no greed, no gluttony, no drunkenness, no debauchery, no sin at all ever crossed his pure mind and thoughts. Our hero had one goal in mind, the will of God done on Earth to perfection.

The Cross of Triumph

God conferred on our hero all power. The cross of disgrace, an odd emblem of power to the unsaved and unbelieving, is to us the great symbol of triumph. Using Jesus's public shame, God disarmed all evil rulers and authorities by the cross of success. On the cross died diabolical death. Yes we may sleep, as if dead, but only until the dawn of the new age coming upon us by the victorious hero on the last trumpet.

Indeed, Jesus gave us the weapons to fight behind him to victory. None of the weapons are shot, fired, thrown, swung, or explode. All the weapons of our warfare are spiritual emanating from the Word of God. With these weapons, we go forth to conquer every rebellious idea that pops into our rattled brains, and we bring every thought into subjection to the world's greatest hero. The greatest weapon against the forces of evil is love. We conquer evil as our hero did by doing good. This is the love of God that we keep the commandments of God, not of man or Satan.

Our Hero Gives Us Victory

As we swing into battle, we see that it is Jesus's power that destroys the enemy. We may swing the sword of the Spirit of God, but its power is from Jesus.

Having received authority from his Father in heaven, Jesus the great king, the true lionhearted, strides before us conquering all that stand in the way of our salvation. God gave him the ability to open the scroll and break the seals to look into the book of life. He made his beloved a kingdom and priesthood to God. Yet the lionhearted one is called the lamb who was slain for our sins. Jesus searches not for greatness but for those who would serve his Father. Greatness found him and made him leader and savior, lord and king.

He brings justice. He makes his Church a bastion of safety invulnerable to all onslaughts. Nothing can conquer his Church, not Satan, not sin, not death.

Faithful Allegiance

It is our faith in Jesus that brings the forces of light, which overwhelms the darkness of evil. Our strength is not in our limbs or even our knowledge of God's Word, as important as that is, but the power of our loyalty and trust in Jesus, our hero. And what is our faith: we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who will never forsake us or leave us alone in a barren region.

After Jesus gives us the victory, he announces us as winners, as if we could do any good without God working through him. Then God will clothe us in the white garments of salvation. He will make us pillars in His Temple forever.

(See: Rom 8:37, 1 Pet 5:8-10, 1 Cor 15:23, 54-57, Col 2:23, Rev 2:26 1 Pet 5:11.)

We Are Inspired by Our Hero

Putting Our Hero First

How much does our leader inspire us? How far will we go to imitate our hero? Will we carry our cross as Jesus did his, actually, ours? The cross he carried was the cross of our sins upon which Jesus died. Our hero challenges us: will we carry our cross daily. Will we die to our sins each day? These evil monsters, these deadly sins, plague us all our lives. Jesus, who never sinned, never had to die. But for our sakes he took our sins upon himself, upon the cross, and died. We who do indeed sin should follow our hero's example of the cross and become worthy of him.

Ordinary heroes, as I have said, save a person's life at most. Jesus saves us for eternal life. So what does our hero demand of us as his followers to gain eternal life? That question was asked of him already. He answered, keep the Ten Commandments. He saved us at his death, but to enter the Kingdom of God, we must prove our loyalty by obedience.

A Hero for All Followers

Inspired by Jesus, we must not condemn his other followers because they are not of our group. All who follow his way are his brothers and sisters as much as we are. These believers are not against us, but for Jesus who is for us. Our hero died for all. Then all who accept his death, who have faith in him and who obey him, have fellowship with us. Any who even gives a glass of water to any follower of Jesus deserves a reward, no matter what his beliefs. Be of generous spirit.

Jesus's example is an inspiration to us all. Those whose spirit is right with God will want to imitate the life of Jesus. Their insight into the greatness of Jesus's acts spur them to follow him above all else. They want to be Jesus's followers more than being a son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother. All else pales because by choosing Jesus we get every other important thing in life.

Our Hero as Our Teacher

While a picture may be worth a thousand words and examples are powerful, there are things that must be taught and learned. Having given the example, Jesus could and did teach his followers the power of life and life more abundantly. Jesus taught the might of God's Word, which he said would stand strong even to the passing of the Earth. He was the wisest man in history. He gave innumerable parables and wise sayings to instruct us in the ways of bravery, righteousness, and yes, of being a hero.

One of the most dramatic lessons Jesus gave was the one of being born again. In this lesson Jesus showed that being buried with him in baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit were necessary to being born anew in the future Kingdom of God. Why baptism and why the Holy Spirit, we may ask. The answer is that we must be buried, as I have said, as Jesus was, and be resurrected as he was. We are thus cleansed from our sins. Then we are filled with God's Holy Spirit. That Spirit sets us apart from ordinary human beings. Just as Adam was far superior to the humanoids we resemble (like the Neanderthal Man) in intelligence and ability, those born of the Holy Spirit makes them that much greater than homo sapiens which they resemble. In the say way, too, that after the resurrection those changed from flesh to spirit will be so far above even those filled with the Spirit as Heaven is from Earth.

Jesus's teaching is from God. Jesus's authority is from God. God's Words are the Words of life to those who are being saved.

We have the Gospel to hear, say aloud, and put into practice. No others words can profoundly change our lives. We encourage all to go to the source of life.

(See: John 13:4, 14-16, Mat 10:37-38, Mark 9:38-41, Luke 18:18-20, John 3:36 Eph 4:1-3, Col 1:11, Mat 11:28-30.)

Jesus Gives Us Authority and Strength

How do we receive this authority? Just as water only flows down hill, so authority comes down to those who have the attitude of "lambness." Those who are impressed with their ability, intelligence, and skill are too proud to receive authority and power from Jesus.

In an ancient battle, God chose certain individuals to be his soldiers. He did not select the strongest, bravest or the most skilled with weapons. This is the way God chose His warriors. He brought the potential soldiers to a river and watched the way they drank from it. He picked only the ones who got down on their hands and knees and lapped the water like dogs. They had the proper humility to let them be the instruments in God's hands to defeat the enemy. So too with Jesus, he wants the most humble because he can mold these into the image of God.

Finally, those who choose Jesus as their hero, those who recognize the greatness of his deeds, those who recognize the importance of the cross, choose thankfulness. That thankfulness is translated into obedience. That obedience is translated into deliverance. Remember no works of obedience can save, Jesus alone is the savior from God. But certainly we prove our faithfulness by faithfully obeying God's Words and commands. Besides how can we say we are thankful for all God has done by rejecting His Laws meant for our good?

(See: Mat 10:1, 28:19-20, Rev 2:28-29.)

Conclusion

No other hero, real or fictitious, can compare to our hero - Jesus. He is our brave champion. He is the greatest celebrity of all time. He is the conquering combatant who defeated mankind's enemies: Satan, sin and death. What other words describe our hero: exemplar, gallant, great person, ideal, leader, lion, martyr, model, paladin, popular figure, protagonist, saint, victor, worthy, and more.

So let us follow our hero from the ways of death into the clear light of eternal life.

Amen.

- Gil Kovacs,

for the Sabbath Christian Church

(e-mail) kov@mediaone.net

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