Download the Worship Folder & Announcements for Dec. 27
Fill out a card to record your family’s online worship attendance
For supporting the ministry of the Gospel at Salem
Worship Series: Life & Light
Worship Theme: Saved!
First Lesson & Sermon Text: Isaiah 45:15-25 (EHV)
Music (in worship folder):
- CW 34 Now Sing We, Now Rejoice
- God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen
- CW 38 From Heaven Above
- CW 67 What Child Is This
- Confession of Faith
- CW 24 Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising
Pastor Jon Brohn
Why has there been such an explosion of comic book heroes on TV and the big screen? Does anyone have a theory? I have two. I think the first one is pretty obvious: marketing. TV and movie producers are looking for anything that will entice more people to spend time in front of the screen. Who are they targeting with comic book heroes? My generation - Generation X. We bought comic books when movie special effects were in their infancy and video games were just getting started. The games weren’t nearly as sophisticated as today either. Two paddles and a centerline was all that Pong had to offer in 1972, certainly not controlling superheroes battling to save the world! For Generation X’ers to see their favorite heroes come alive on the big screen was a dream come true (for us and for the studios!).
Here’s my second theory: we admire superheroes because they get the job done. They throw themselves in harm’s way. They duel against evil supervillains. They always save the world at the end of the story. That’s why superhero comic books, movies, TV shows, and video games are so popular. Everyone wants someone to rescue our world...rescue us!
The problem is: superheroes aren’t real! A radioactive spider can’t change a person into a human arachnid. A super-soldier experiment and a proto-adamantium shield painted red, white, and blue won’t turn someone into the world’s most ethical superhero. A metal suit with the latest technology won’t turn a billionaire into Iron Man. We’d love them to be real, but they’re not! It doesn’t stop us from looking for a savior. Think back over the past few presidential elections. People were looking for someone to save our nation, whether from a particular political platform, another candidate, some great social problem, or some ecological disaster. People are looking for a savior.
Why? I think the answer is pretty straightforward. We live in a messed up world. We witness massive weather disasters and want someone to figure out the answer and prevent destruction and death before it can happen. We struggle with racism and stereotypes and look for a savior on the city council or in our federal government to come up with a solution. We hear different groups calling on others to start dealing with each other in love, and watch as they destroy public and personal property without hesitation. We live in a society where people would rather interact on social media than talk face to face and appreciate each other for who they are. We judge someone’s personal choice without pausing to talk to them first!
That’s only pointing the finger at everyone around us. The cause of the world’s problems is looking back at us in the mirror. We would rather blame everyone else instead of acknowledging the evil that lives here in our hearts. That evil drives our thoughts into dark places where we can anonymously bathe in filth. It directs our mouths to form words that tear down and ridicule. It pushes our hands into actions that hurt and destroy. We need someone to save our world and save us from ourselves!
There is always a point in the comics and the movies where the people in danger cry out for help, and the superhero shows up. Nothing can stop Underdog, Iron Man, or Wonder Woman from saving the day. These figments of our desperate imaginations won’t show up to save us. Is there anyone who will help, anyone who can save us?
There is. Some might call him “Super Baby!” Strong enough to breathe out stars. Intelligent enough to predict the future. Loving enough to save the world. Share that on Twitter and see what happens - you’ll get more negative responses than ever before. Super Baby? Come on. There are plenty of fully grown adult superheroes. There are even a number of teen superheroes. If you want to include Jack-Jack from the Incredibles, there’s even a toddler superhero. But a new-born infant superhero? No one pictures that, and especially not a baby born 2000 years ago. No one looks for a superhero in a stable, born to a young woman with no special powers or mutant abilities. That’s impossible!
For us, yes, it’s impossible. Not for God. Isaiah began this section by calling out to God, “Indeed, you are a God who hides himself. You are the God of Israel, the Savior” (Isaiah 45:15 EHV). Isaiah recognized that God doesn’t burst onto the scene like a superhero with muscles flexing and weapons blazing. God hides himself in everyday events and uses everyday things to “flex his muscles.” Even with massive miracles in ancient times he was hiding behind the scenes. God hid behind Moses and his staff when Moses parted the Red Sea. God hid behind cloud and fire to lead his people through the wilderness day and night. God hid behind David and his sling when the shepherd boy defeated the Philistine hero Goliath. “Indeed, you are a God who hides himself!”
There’s a reason he has to hide himself. Moses, the man who was called God’s “friend”, asked to get a close up look at the LORD. Here’s how God answered: “You cannot see my face, for no human may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20 EHV). God is so powerful, so perfect, so radiant, that a sinful human being can’t see him and survive. We’d end up like half of the world did at the end of Avengers: Infinity War - little piles of dust! If we can’t see God, or even stand in his presence, how can we be sure he cares about us, let alone would be willing to help us?
That’s where “Super Baby” comes in. This is the Son of God, hidden in human flesh? God became one of us? Take a closer look at this child. He looks like a baby, all wrinkled and helpless. He has that new baby smell, and every once in a while that dirty baby smell when he needs a change. He has baby-bird hair on top of his head, five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. We see a baby, a real baby. Isaiah urges us to look deeper! “This is what the LORD says. He created the heavens, He is God! He formed the earth and made it. Yes, he established it! He did not create it to remain empty. He formed it to be inhabited. I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:18 EHV). This baby’s eyes have seen eternity. They look out with innocent, gentle wisdom none of us possess. Hidden in those baby hands is power, wonder-working power. Jesus’ hands stretched out the heavens - a universe so broad that scientists marvel at its size, estimate how big it is, and then admit it could be so much larger than they estimate! Jesus’ hands formed clay and dust into a man, and then he breathed life into the breathless clay. We don’t have time today to examine all the wonders of his work, but these are the hands. He has the power and wisdom to do it all. He makes it clear: “I am the LORD, and there is no other!”
There’s another way to know that this truly is a super baby. Listen to what he says and promises. “I did not speak in secret, or from someplace in a land of darkness. I did not say to the descendants of Jacob, “Seek me in the midst of chaos.” I, the LORD, am speaking in righteousness. I am declaring what is right. Gather! Come! Draw near together, you survivors from the nations. They have no knowledge— those who are lifting up their idols of wood and praying to a god that cannot save. Make an announcement and come close. Let them consult together. Who made this known ahead of time? From time past who announced it? Was it not I, the LORD? There is no god except me, a righteous God and Savior. There is no one except me” (Isaiah 45:19–21 EHV). This baby can’t talk, can he? No! Not beyond the little baby noises and cries he makes. But his voice has sounded throughout history. The LORD had made some bold predictions earlier in Isaiah’s prophecy. He told the people of Judah that the Babylonians would capture Jerusalem, destroy the temple, and take them away into exile. At that time, the Babylonians didn’t exist. They weren’t a nation, let alone powerful enough to take over Jerusalem. Then in this same chapter, the LORD promised that he would make a man named Cyrus his chosen instrument to rescue the people of Judah from captivity. Isaiah wrote these words around 700 B.C. Cyrus didn’t show up for almost 200 years!
The point is simply this: who tells the truth about the future? Do idols of wood and stone? No! The people who worship them are looking for answers but will never find them. The LORD always speaks the truth about the future and it always comes true. Throughout the Old Testament there are over 300 prophecies about this super baby. How many did the baby fulfill? Every. Single. One. He speaks the truth. He does the truth. There is no god except me - this baby - a righteous God and Savior! There is no one except me!”
Did you hear that powerful promise from this super baby? A righteous God and Savior! Listen to this amazing promise: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, because I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by myself. From my mouth a righteous word has gone out, and it will not return unfulfilled. Indeed, to me every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:22–23 EHV). 33 ½ years after he lay, helpless, in a manger, this super baby would hang helpless on a cross. From his mouth a righteous word went out: “Finished!” That word did not return unfulfilled. Jesus finished his work. The world’s greatest superhero, hidden in flesh and blood just like you and me, defeated the world’s worst super-villain. On that day, at that moment, the God-man on the cross crushed the power of Satan. With his selfless sacrifice Jesus paid the ultimate price for the evil that lives in each one of us, for the evil that showed itself in our thoughts, words, and actions. He paid with his life, and then smashed the power of death. An imaginary superhero might be able to come back from the grave if the story is written well enough, like the Avengers in End Game. That’s just a story. Jesus is the only hero who has ever truly done it, and he guarantees that victory is ours, too. One day, everyone will acknowledge him and everything he has done. One day, everyone will have to bow down before him. It won’t matter whether they believed that God was hidden here in human flesh or not. Jesus “is God, and there is no other!”
Jesus is not an Avenger, or Superman. He’s not a stylish, muscle bound hero. He isn’t even Super Baby. He’s Jesus. The Son of God and a real human being. He has so much love in his heart for us whether we realize it or not. He loves us with all of our baggage and problems. He is the Savior that our hearts crave. Jesus is there for us in the hour of greatest need. When we cry out for help he hears and he answers. He is God, our God, a righteous God and Savior. There is no one except him! Amen.