You may remember the Marvel movie “The Black Panther” that came out in 2018 and went on to be the top-grossing movie in the Marvel cinematic universe. The plot of the movie revolves around the coming-of-age story of the character T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman- an African-American actor who tragically died of colon cancer last year. Shortly after the movie was released, Jimmy Fallon (the host of The Tonight Show) invited members of the African-American community to share their thoughts on how important the movie was to them by asking them to share their thoughts with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Boseman dressed as the Black Panther superhero. One-by-one, the fans came out and expressed how moving it was to see an African-American man playing the lead role in such a great action movie. Over and over again, the fans shared how moving it was to identity with his character and how they immediately felt such a strong connection to him.

The fans shared all of these deeply personal stories with the cardboard cutout because they were told that they were being recorded and would be shared with Boseman later. They thought that they would never get to meet Boseman face-to-face and they were excited to have the opportunity to at least be able to thank him over video. But, little did they know that Boseman was on the other side of a curtain waiting to meet them. My favorite part of the video segment was watching the reactions of the fans when Boseman, the Black Panther himself, stepped from behind the curtain and warmly greeted them. What had been “the promise of a person” suddenly became “the reality of a person” who the fans could see, hear, and be embraced by. The fans could go home and tell their friends “I actually MET the Black Panther!”

The apostle John wrote in John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory…” Think about how important this statement actually is. John tells us that the promise of the long-awaited Messiah became the reality of the Messiah when Jesus came in flesh. Jesus came with great power, but also with a great purpose- to die in our place. The very fact that Jesus would willingly come in flesh to lay down His life for sinful people like you and me should take our breath away. We did not deserve this mercy and redemption, but Christ laid Himself down in our place to satisfy the wrath of God for sin. Now, as we trust Jesus by faith alone, the Christian’s hope can never fail because it is firmly grounded in both the promise AND the reality of the person of Jesus Christ. This should give us hope and courage as we wait for His promised return, even when life gets hard. We will see Him one day...face-to-face.

– Rev. Dave Latham is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.

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