My dreams are usually vague, fuzzy and incredibly disjointed. But the epic saga from last night as I write this was crystal clear and left me somewhat shaken — and fearing for Gotham.
Batman (the Christian Bale Batman) was being forced to retire. Mind you, he seemed to be in perfectly good shape, still young and strong, and I have no idea why he had to go. He was, though, being allowed input on his replacement.
Loyal Alfred (the Michael Caine Alfred, whom I will always see as Scrooge in "The Muppet Christmas Carol") had come up with the perfect replacement. Batman, though, was adamantly opposed to the idea. He was not even willing to give his replacement a chance.
The replacement Alfred had settled on was Greg from "The Brady Bunch." There he was, sitting nearby in a La-Z-Boy recliner, wearing a checkered shirt, smiling that iconic smile, curly hair waving as he nodded his head. I cannot get over the contradistinction of the Dark Knight, brooding angrily, while Greg Brady grinned at him, ready to take his job.
I can only imagine, had I been able to sleep longer, the hilarity that would have ensued in Gotham:
"Here's the story, of a guy name Joker, who was thinking up some really awful crimes. All of them were even worse than the others; he should be doing time.
"Here's the story, of the brand new Batman, who was planning how to stop the Joker cold. He would need help from his brothers and his sisters, who now are getting old."
I told my wife my dream. She sighed that deep sigh again that I hear so often. I don't think she knew what she was getting into when she said "I do."
It would be very hard to replace Batman. Hard but not impossible. After all, Michael Keaton was replaced by Val Kilmer who was replaced by George Clooney who was replaced by Ben Affleck, etc. He can be replaced. Just not by Greg Brady.
But as my mind turns to more serious matters, I realize both in gratitude and awe that the one hero that can never be replaced is Jesus. For starters, he was and is actually real.
As to the "was" part, the late Michael Grant, professor at Edinburgh, an atheist, wrote a book titled "An Historian's Review of the Gospels." In it, he approvingly cited a quote by religious scholar Otto Betz, which said, "To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has again and again been annihilated by first-rank scholars. In recent years, no serious scholar has ventured the non-historicity of Jesus, or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary."
Not only did Jesus and does Jesus exist, he has credentials that are unmatched and cannot even be closely duplicated. The gap between his qualifications and any other would-be savior is far greater than the gap between Batman and Greg Brady. Jesus was pre-existent.
John 1:3 says "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
Colossians 1:16-17 says, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
Jesus was also virgin born (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18) and lived a totally sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). Even his enemies testified of his character. Pontius Pilate said, "I find no fault in him."
Most importantly, many have laid down their lives for friends, or for good people, but Jesus died for all, including the worst of the worst (Romans 5:8). And then he rose from the dead under his own power, and was seen of more than 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6).
Seeing all this, 1 John 2:2 says that he is "the propitiation (satisfactory sacrifice) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." God the Father is only satisfied by one thing: Jesus dying for us.
There is no replacement at all for that.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. His books are available at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.