With the power contained within his muscles, it took little effort to knock the man into unconsciousness. His elation turned to horror, however, when he was finally able to see the man's face -- a very familiar face!
"That -- that face! It's -- Oh no. It can't be!" burst from beneath the colorful mask covering his own face. "It's the fugitive who ran past me! The one I didn't stop when I had the chance!"
To some, it's become one of the more famous fictional tales of our time: the origin of the comic book hero Spider-Man. And it ends with what some regard as one of the most legendary lines of popular fiction penned in the 20th century:
"And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power must come -- great responsibility!"
Although it's doubtful that it entered his mind when Marvel Comics' Stan Lee wrote that first Spider-Man story, his words closely parallel the words of Jesus Christ.
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be required ... " (Luke 12:48 NASB)
"No wonder superheroes are more popular today than ever and movies based on comic books are wildly successful. In a dark and sinister world that leads us to believe we're insignificant, we need to know we were created for something greater."
"If Krypton had never exploded and Superman had remained on the planet of his birth, he could have lived an idyllic existence in a techno-utopia. But in doing so he never would have made a difference in our world. Only in coming to earth is Superman able to accomplish his saving work among mortals. He cannot save us from a distance.
Possibly God could have found a less costly means of saving us. He might have rescued us from on high, aloof and untouched by the mud and blood of human existence, but in fact God chose to accomplish our salvation down here. Christ stepped down from the heavens and joined us in our earthbound humanity."
"who,although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:6-8 NASB
The idea of servanthood is perhaps the most fascinating parallel of all between the Last Son of Krypton and the Son of God, considering Jesus' own words on the nature of service.
"whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:26-28
And indeed Superman imitates Christ in this as well, for in a 1993 storyline Superman not only dies to save his adopted people from a destructive monster called Doomsday, but in a rather interesting parallel is subsequently resurrected. Perhaps Superman has become such an American icon because of parallels such as these. Perhaps the appeal of the character is that he points us toward the reality that Christ came to serve humanity by suffering and dying for our sin, and then rose from the dead? It is certainly a launchpad for discussing deeper issues regarding God and the afterlife.
This post is becoming overlong, so I think that I will continue next week in Part Three, where I'll discuss a comic book hero that may be less familiar but no less a part of popular culture, and what spiritual truths he points us towards.