Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

Of Beginnings, Batman, and other things that matter…


“Every now and then I see you dreaming.

Every now and then I see you cry.

Every now and then I see you reaching,

Reaching for the other side.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?”

—Switchfoot, Red Eyes

************

Robin: Holey rusted metal, Batman!

Batman: Huh?

Robin: The ground, it’s all metal. It’s full of holes. You know, holey.

Batman: Oh.

(Batman Forever, 1995)

And so, with those words, the crime against cinema that was called Batman Forever had comically, and yet tragically, sunk to a new low.  Batman Forever was the nail in Batman’s coffin as a viable character.

Wait….what’s that?  You’re asking about the Batman and Robin movie?  Well friend, you see, it hurts to even admit that movie was made.  So, please go along with me and let’s pretend it NEVER was made.  Because if we acknowledge it’s existence, we must acknowledge the dialogue in it as well, such as Mr. Freeze saying “Let’s kick some ice!”  See what I mean?  It’s easier to just forget that ever even happened.

By 1997, it was clear:  Hollywood had completely butchered Batman and left him bleeding out on the editing room floor.  One of the great characters and narratives of American culture was beaten down by and cheapened by horrific writing, terrible acting, and worst of all, thoughtless casting.  I mean…..really?!  George Clooney as Batman??  Someone thought that was a good idea?

Nevertheless, the idea and viability of Batman’s was on life-support after these cinema-crimes were completed in 1997.  For all intents and purposes, irreparable damage had been done.  There was no future for the Dark Knight.

********

One of the great encouragements of reading the Bible is how honest it treats the characters in it.  The Bible is so candidly honest about it’s characters’ faults and sins, it’s almost embarrassing.  Just start in Genesis and you will see what I mean:

Adam and Eve messing up something so great for a piece of fruit.

Cain murdering his brother with jealous rage.

Noah, after the flood, gets totally drunk and naked on his front lawn.

Abraham lying about his wife.

Sarah giving Hagar to her husband Abraham.

Jacob completely lying to his own father to steal a birthright from his brother.

On and on and on it goes (just wait till you get to the disciples!)….the Bible reveals people as they really are: sinful and prone to mess up.

This is encouraging not because I’m any better than these people, but because I can identify with them and their sin.  I can see that even the giants of the Christian faith struggled, stumbled, and fell along the way.

David is perhaps one of the great examples of this truth.  His life is so rich with stories of his amazing triumphs (vs Goliath, mercy on Saul, friendship with Jonathan, victorious in battles, etc), and some stunning lows.

In 2 Samuel 11-12, David’s darkest days are shown in unflinching realism.  It is almost haunting to begin reading chapter 11 because you just know: this is where David trades in so much blessing for a fleeting pleasure and the consequences will be devastating.  He doesn’t go out to battle like he should, commits adultery, tries unsuccessfully to put together a cover-up, deceives all those close to him, has a good man (along with many faithful soldiers) blatantly killed, and lives a lie.

David had fallen probably further than he ever imagined possible.  Forsaking God, he ran fast after sin.  And finally, Nathan confronts him and the running is over.  David was finally brought face-to-face with his gruesome sin and the wreckage he had wrought.

The idea and viability of David’s kingship and ministry was on life-support after these sins were committed.  For all intents and purposes, irreparable damage had been done.  There was no future for David.

“I’ve made a mess of me

I wanna get back the rest of me

I’ve made a mess of me

I wanna spend the rest of my life alive!

I’ve made a mess of me

I wanna get back the rest of me

I’ve made a mess of me

I wanna spend the rest of my life alive

The rest of my life alive!

—Switchfoot, Mess of Me

Sometime in the spring of 2005, I saw a movie trailer that immediately fascinated me.  The trailer was for a movie called Batman Begins.  The sights and sounds of the trailer were stunningly awesome: Ninjas, Christian Bale as Batman, Liam Neeson mysteriously talking, the TUMBLER (!!!!), lots of action, and even a horse breathing FIRE!  Yes!  A horse breathing FIRE!! Viewing that trailer now will get you fired up to see that movie. (note—at the bottom, I’ve pasted the URL so you can watch the trailer for yourself)

It was something new!  Batman was back and better than any previous version.  Christopher Nolan (the director) had created something NEW and awesome.

It just so happened that BB came out on my birthday that summer and a group of friends and I went to the Imax to see it.  Where all the other Batman movies had failed, this one got it right.  Batman was redeemed!

Several years later, I remember driving home rather quickly from a youth camp I was speaking at to see The Dark Knight on the day of it’s release.  Indeed, this new version of Batman made the failures seem like a distant memory.  THIS was how Batman should be.  THIS was right.

********

In Psalm 51, David writes one of his most poignant psalms: his psalm of confession and repentance.  To read the words of Psalm 51 is to read the words of a broken man.  Knowing the background and the fullness of David’s sin, you cannot just lightly breeze through his words of confession.  Here is what it looks like to rightly acknowledge sin and need for God.

As I was preparing messages this spring, one dealing specifically with Psalm 51, I came upon a new truth about this psalm.  This truth immediately became one of my favorite things God has revealed to me in the last year or so.  I can rarely even think about this truth without a smile coming to my face.

In the middle of Psalm 51, David writes these words: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Now check this out: the word David uses for “create” is the Hebrew word “bara.”  That one word, bara, is significant and powerful.

Bara is the same word the writer of Genesis uses in Genesis 1:1 “God created the heavens and the earth.”  This is one of the few times the word is ever used in the Bible (ps.51:10 being another), and this word is ONLY used in reference to something God does.  Bara is the way that ONLY God creates something.  The essence of Bara is God creating something where NOTHING existed before; it is something only God can do.

When the Bible writes of men making something, the words used are equivalent to “form” or “make,” but never bara.  Bara is reserved for God’s creative act.

One scholar, Henri Blocher, says it this way: “The Old Testament uses bara sparingly, and in that form, exclusively of the God of Israel.  Never is any material mentioned.  The creative act appears supremely effortless and its result is sometimes miraculous, and frequently new.  It is…reserved for God, from which arises complete newness.”

And David is asking for that now.  He is calling on God to create from nothing (ex nihilo), just as He created the heavens and earth from nothing.  David is asking God to bara, to create, a new, clean heart.

Where his sin has only left death and destruction…where David literally has NOTHING left…..he confidently comes to God and humbly asks for a NEW heart.  David is asking for God to do God-things, to do what ONLY God can do.

It is a beautiful prayer and it is part of why God is so amazing.  Only God can create new hearts.

*******

God creates new hearts through His Gospel.  Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect and sinless life.  He never fell and sinned like David, or Noah, or Abraham, or the disciples, or you, or me.  He was and is perfectly holy—without blemish.  Yet, Jesus died on a Cross to pay the price for our sins and to take upon Himself God’s righteous wrath toward our grievous and numerous sins.

Jesus rose again in victory on the third day and is the only Savior.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Any attempt to achieve peace with God or to receive God’s forgiveness and salvation that does not begin and end with Jesus will fail.  Any attempt to earn God’s love and grace that is based on human accomplishment will fail, massively.

Jesus is the Good News.  He is the Gospel.  He is why God can and does create new hearts.

Our hero is Jesus.

Jesus takes broken people, broken emotions, broken thinking, broken relationships, broken lives, broken hearts……and He creates new things.

Jesus will bara a new heart….a clean heart, in those who love Him as Savior and Lord.

Jesus lovingly creates something beautiful out of the mess we make.

Jesus can bara a clean heart in you as well.

“You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things

Out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us.”  —Gungor, Beautiful Things

**********

David got back on his feet.  He did not stay down and defeated by his sin.  David’s sin had consequences and pain, but David was not taken out for good.  He got back up with a clean heart and went on to serve God well.

Like Nolan’s new version of Batman, David had a fresh start that was better than the old ways.  He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he would again be King and would serve God.

Jesus creates NEW hearts so we don’t have to go back to the stupid and lame ways we used to walk in.  No more plots with holes in them, but people living with meaning.  No more terrible scripts, but words fused with His grace and truth.  No more boring narratives, but an amazing story of His redemption.

Jesus, the Good Director as it were, brings His story and He allows us a part in it.

*************

Nothing else on earth can do what Jesus does.  Your money can’t bara, nor can your popularity, your prestige, your job, your relationships, your possessions, your intellect, your accomplishments….Nothing else can bara.  Only the Sinless Savior who shed His precious blood on that wooden cross.  Only the Creator can, and will…and longs….to create like this.

If you are in a dark place or stuck in sin, be encouraged by David’s actions and words.  Do not stay there but come to Jesus.  He and He alone has the words of life.

Jesus stands READY to create new things and it brings more glory to Him!

Jesus will bara.

It’s what He does.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Thanks for reading.  All comments/messages with your thoughts are always welcomed.  If you like this, please share it.

(Trailer for Batman Begins—- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vak9ZLfhGnQ)

A HORSE……BREATHING FIRE!!!  —–just sayin’!

2 comments on “Of Beginnings, Batman, and other things that matter…

  1. Pingback: Wrestling With Revenge, Redemption, and Robots | Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

  2. Pingback: Make That Beauty Call | Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

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