It's easier to think of Jesus as being closer to something like Superman. Someone who is more or less human and has feelings and can be hurt, but is essentially indestructible. It's not a bad story. A lot of people are Superman fans and as things go, Superman isn't a bad role model. There are worse role models than someone who has superpowers and chooses to use them to do good in the world. And there is security in that someone being indestructible so they can be around to save one from the bad guys.
But that's not the Christian story.
The Christian story is much harder. Because no one gets saved from the bad guys. In fact, the person who was suppose to be Superman can't even save himself. So what do you do when Superman dies?
Earlier this week I was invited to give a short Lenten reflection at a bi-weekly dinner for LGBT Christian students. Since we were approaching Holy Week and they wouldn't see each other again until Easter, I chose the Lazarus story from last Sunday's Gospel since it could touch a bit on the themes of death and resurrection and still stay within the bounds of Lent. As I was going over what I would say, one of the phrases I was considering was "so when in our lives there are places that appear dead, we are called to remember that in those places God can bring life."
Sounds great doesn't it. Except that it's WRONG.
Lazarus didn't appear dead---he was dead---four days a matter of fact.
So Lazarus, one of Jesus' friends and someone he loved well enough to weep over, doesn't get saved from the messy and the bad either.
Jesus doesn't get saved from the messy and the bad---and neither do we.
Because we didn't get Superman, we got God becoming human.
The proper phrase is "So when in our lives there are places that are dead, we are called to believe that from those places God brings life."
And that is a very, very different thing to believe.
Definitely not Superman.