Amazing, perplexing, transforming power of a super hero


By Tracy Thomas
Director of Alumni Relations

Lincoln Christian University

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My favorite superhero growing up was Superman. He had all those amazing powers – strength, speed, X-ray vision, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, you know. One thing about him fascinates me to this day.

How on earth does Superman become Clark Kent?

I was Clark Kent once. Literally. My eighth grade speech class did a video like the old Superman serials you see on TV still today. My friend Tony got to be Superman (I am still bitter about that one), while I played the role of Clark. I assume it was because I wore glasses or looked like a wimp or something (Again, not bitter). It was no fun to be Clark. I wanted to wear the S, the symbol of hope for a world who desperately needed a Superman.

I get the powers. What I do not get is the willingness to put them aside in order to become an ordinary reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper. Kal-El could quite literally own the world. And he chose to put on the glasses and the tie and pay bills and take the subway to work.

There are many Christmas scriptures in the Bible, maybe more than you even realize. Take Philippians 2: "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5).

Philippians 2:5-11 is the story of Superman becoming Clark Kent. "Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage." (Philippians 2:6).

The story of Christmas is a story of the God who let go of heaven to grab a hold of us.

"Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2:7). If you look closely, you can almost see Superman going into the phone booth to cover up the S with a shirt, tie, and glasses. This descent absolutely intrigues me. Jesus doesn’t just become like us. He becomes one who serves. He chose to make himself nothing. The image of the stable is powerful, isn’t it?

I love the words of Leslie Leyland Fields:

Let the Stable Still Astonish!
by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child, rag-wrapped laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said:
“Yes, Let the God of Heaven and Earth be born in this place.”
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms of our hearts
And says,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth be born in THIS place.”

But even this wasn’t the end of the transformation. "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8). The Creator of the universe humbled himself. The One who spoke everything into existence, the Ruler of all, became obedient. And not JUST obedient! Jesus chose to be obedient to the one thing in creation that He did not create – death itself! And in case you think that is far enough, Jesus isn’t done. He will die cursed on a cross. There is no Easter story without Christmas.


I don’t understand Clark Kent. Superman is the one with the power. I want to wear the S. And then I read the Christmas story and discover the Hope of the world wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And then a crucifixion and more swaddling clothes, only this time it is not a birth wrap but a burial cloth.

This is what Paul referred to when he talked about taking on the mindset of Christ, to think like Jesus. Christmas is a reminder of the powerful love of God, laid low for the sake of a Father who desperately seeks restoration with His lost children.

But I can’t end our time together without a reminder of my favorite Superman scene ever. The first movie with Christopher Reeve. Lois Lane dangling from the rooftop of a building after a helicopter crash. Clark Kent running across the street and opening his button-down shirt to reveal the S. How he catches her in the air. Then he catches the falling helicopter. Cue the coolest John Williams music ever. Feel free to find the recording and play the Superman theme when you read this last part.

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11).

Jesus came to earth as a baby the first time. There will come a day when He returns, but this time He will be a rider on a white horse, named Faithful and True. He will bear a sword in his MOUTH (Revelation is an awesome Christmas story ever in its own right) and He will dispense judgment to the nations. The S will be plainly visible, and the Hope of the world will be called Lord.

How does Superman become Clark Kent? By remembering His purpose and looking toward the day when everyone will see the S. The Christmas story reminds me that we have a purpose as well – to think and serve and love like Jesus, knowing that God will finish what He started – "Being confident of this: that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

Thank you, Jesus, for putting on the glasses. You’re my favorite superhero.


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