It must have been awesome naming super heroes in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Back then all a writer had to do was to add “Man” onto some sort of animal. Batman, Spider-Man and Ant Man were a little on the nose. So were names like the Scarlet Witch and the Invisible Woman. How long did those naming meetings take?
Writer 1: She’s a witch and she’s red.
Writer 2: What about the Red Witch?
Writer 1: No. That’s a little obvious. What about the Scarlet Witch?
Writer 2: Perfect! What about this hero? She can make herself invisible.
Writer 1: What about Invisigirl?
Writer 2: Too difficult to spell. What about the Invisible Woman?
Writer 1: Classic.
Writer 2: Hopefully these characters will be enduring enough for movie studios to destroy them with a 2-hour, blatant cash-grab.
Names carry a lot of meaning for super heroes and they also carry a lot of meaning for the Messiah.
Before the first Christmas, when the Israelites were waiting for the Messiah, Isaiah gave them some hints as to what the Messiah would be like. He shared with them some names that helped describe who the Messiah would be and what he would do.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Those four names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace would have carried a lot of meaning for the Israelites. They can also carry a lot of meaning for us as well as we think about how Jesus wants to work in our lives today.
Let’s take a little closer look at each of those names and a comic book character that goes along with each one.
Wonderful Counselor – Professor X
The name Wonderful Counselor meant that the Messiah would lead us on the best and straightest path. If we commit ourselves to Jesus, if we trust in his advice and follow it, then we will live the best lives possible. Even though some of the sheen has come off Professor X in recent years, he’s still a great leader and counselor. He trained and directed years of X-Men, trying to make the world a better place for humankind and mutantkind.
Mighty God – Wolverine
Mighty God was a name that meant the Messiah would not only be divine, but he would also fight for his people. Imagine how encouraging that would have sounded to a group of Israelites who had been constantly conquered, reconquered and conquered again. Wolverine is always up for a fight and fiercely loyal. Much like Jesus, Wolverine would always fight for those he cared about, never leaving their side even when the fighting got toughest.
Everlasting Father – Cable
Jesus isn’t the Father but we can view him as our father figure. Jesus allows all the little children to come running to him and that includes us. We’re all little children running towards Jesus and he is ready and waiting with arms open wide. Cable may not seem like much of a softy but, in his relationship with Hope, he was definitely a father figure. He went to great lengths to protect Hope and he wanted what was best for her, just like Jesus does for us.
Prince of Peace – Forge
The word for peace in Isaiah is “shalom,” which means much more than the absence of conflict. Shalom is a much larger idea that has to do with things being made right and all the broken pieces being put back together. Forge was one of my favorite X-Men. I always wanted to be able to build whatever I wanted out of whatever I had. Forge could make anything he wanted but I’d still rather have Jesus rebuilding my broken life.
Jesus has many names and each of them reflects a way in which he wants to encounter us. We can see a little of Jesus almost anywhere we look. If we focus on him enough, though, we’ll start to see a lot more of him in our own lives.
In which comic book characters do you see something of Jesus?
If you’d like to download my sermon from this weekend in which I examine these names of Jesus, please click here.