Every Hero But Jesus

I watched “The Day After Tomorrow” with my father-in-law today.  Something stuck out to me:

There is a noticeable and heavy and seemingly inherent respect that resides in the human heart for those who put themselves and their well-being aside for the sake of another person.  A father committing to come and find his son no matter what the cost; a nurse staying behind with a child cancer patient when everyone else was evacuating and the last ride was leaving; and a traveler cutting the rope by which he was hanging so that he wouldn’t drag his partners down to their deaths with him.  These were sentimental and emotional and weighty moments in the theater.  And before we laugh off such sentimentality and emotions and soul-heaviness simply because it was produced by a movie, I must ask, “Why do we feel that way about someone laying down his life on behalf of another person?”  Was that feeling really produced only by the movie and the scene and the circumstance and the music, or also by something within the soul?

God has put His law on our hearts.  We are disfigured and distorted and mutated by sin, yet were still created in His image, and we were designed with a conscience upon which the truth and character God is unerasably written.  To one extent or another, we just know that some things are good and right.  So good and so right.  Putting others’ interests before your own, thinking of others above yourself, laying your life down for a friend or a son or someone in distress, holding tenaciously to a promise made to take care of someone in need come hell or high water — these are so very good.  They are right.  “Greater love has no one than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friend.”  True, sacrificial, selfless, risk-taking, life-giving love is etched upon the human heart as being virtuous and noble and right.  And to do otherwise is horrifically wrong.  The natural response of the audience to these virtuous acts was the fascinating aspect of the movie (or at least a few parts of the movie).

The frustrating part was that the greatest example of true, sacrificial, selfless, risk-taking, life-giving love, the Lord Jesus Christ, is hated by the same people.  The Gospels are littered with this kind of mercy-driven boldness.  They are overflowing with Christ’s love and compassion and commitment and tenacity and sacrifice and pain on behalf of others.  Yet the world hates Him.  How can we get emotional and sentimental and have our hearts respond to the noble selflessness of an actor in risking or giving his life to save another person and then see the person of Christ and reject Him?  Is His love not more amazing and beautiful and desireable than the noblest of heroes and the most pain-embracing of rescuers?  How can we adore the life-giving hero (even an acting hero) and yawn at the bloody Savior of the world?  If it is right and good for any man to lay down his life out of pure love for another individual, how much more is it shockingly beautiful for Christ to willingly undergo all that He underwent for His *enemies*?  How can it be?

I find only one answer: blindness.  We cannot see.  Until regeneration, until the new birth, we are blind and deaf and mute and calloused.  We cannot see the glory of His sacrificial and perfect heroism, we cannot hear His constantly compassionate words, we cannot speak a word to His honor, and we cannot feel the multi-colored penetrations of His love into our world.  We are dead.

But once He gave me eyes to see and ears to hear and a mouth to speak and a soul to feel and desire and have holy affections, how glorious He appears!  Christ is the hero; Christ is center stage; Christ is the life-giver, giving His life for us and thereby giving His life to us.  The heroes of “The Day After Tomorrow,” noble though they be, must all fall at the feet of the crucified and risen Christ.  His love is wonderful, His tenacity is stirring, His sacrifice is inspiring.  May the world have eyes to see with spiritual eyes what they see in the theater with human eyes.  Open our eyes…

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