Unless you’ve been living in a box for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about the new Superman movie: Man of Steel. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you get to a theater and check it out.
It’s no secret that the Superman story is heavily influenced by the life of Jesus. Both men willingly set aside their superiority in order to experience life as a human being. Both men came to Earth with unbelievable powers, yet chose to use them for the good of others rather than their own gain. Ultimately, both men were willing to sacrifice everything in order to save mankind.
The main difference between the two, is that Superman is a fictional character, and Jesus Christ is the living Son of God.
I tend to geek out on theological parallels in movies, which is perhaps why I also enjoyed the Lord of the Rings movies so immensely. What touched me the most in Man of Steel though, wasn’t the way that Superman modeled Jesus and His miraculous power. I was impressed with the way He modeled Jesus in His humility and humanity.
The first scene that stood out to me, which modeled his humility, was when Superman was detained by the military—in handcuffs. Obviously, the only reason Superman was even in handcuffs was he allowed it to happen, which he makes clear a few minutes later as he snaps the handcuffs like a piece of thread. Yet, even after displaying his strength, he continued to remain in their custody voluntarily.
It reminded me of the time when Jesus was being arrested. Peter pulled his sword out to defend him, but Jesus just asked him to put his sword away. He then goes on to tell Peter:
Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now? (Matthew 26:53–54)
Jesus knew the guards had no power to stop Him, yet He still chose to willingly put aside His infinite power and humbly surrender to them. Likewise, the entire time He was being tortured on the cross, He was a single prayer away from that very same army of angels coming down to set Him free from His pain. Jesus knew this full well. But He also knew He was the only one who had the power to rescue us from our sin and fulfill the role God had called Him to fulfill.
In the same way that Superman willingly surrendered to the military, Jesus willingly surrendered to death—not because He had been overpowered, but because His love for us was so overpowering.
The other scene that touched me, and reminded me of the humanity of Jesus, took place when Superman was still a young boy. He hadn’t learned yet how to control his superior senses, which often resulted in him becoming overstimulated and causing panic attacks. This particular time, it overwhelmed him so much that he locked himself in a closet to drown out the world. No one was able to calm him down, so they asked his mother to come to the door to try to talk to him.
Clark Kent: The world’s too big, Mom.
Martha Kent: Then make it small. Focus on my voice.
Pretend it’s an island out in the ocean. Can you see it?
When I heard that line, it was as if God was speaking to me directly.
If Jesus had to rely on My voice when His world got too big,
you will need to do the same.
I obviously recognize that I’m not Jesus, and no amount of spandex will ever make me Superman. I’m just a normal guy. Which is why the only way I will ever have any hope of making it through the seasons where the world seems to big—those times where life is overwhelming—is to focus on the voice of God to make the world smaller. If I keep looking at the big picture and all the steps I’ll have to take, I’ll get overwhelmed. If, however, I listen for God to just tell me the next step and focus on Him rather than my problems, it becomes easier to trust that He really will get me through.
Jesus recognized his need to be connected to His Father throughout His entire earthly ministry. He knew how dependent He was for God to direct His every move. And if Jesus (who was fully God as well as fully man) needed that support, how much more will we need it?
So go and see Man of Steel. And as you watch it, remember, Jesus willingly set aside His power, submitting to death on the cross and setting you free. And if you have trusted in His work on the cross to give you life, you have full access to God and can boldly come to Him whenever your world feels too big.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me… (John 10:27–28)