“How To Become Superhuman”

Sermon Delivered By Rev. Dick Stetler – July 30, 2017

Centenary United Methodist Church

Psalm 105:1-7; Matthew 13:31-35, 44-46

    This morning we are going to take one more glance at Matthew's passages concerning what life is like while living in the Kingdom of God.  We are familiar with all of the metaphors that Jesus used to describe why acquiring attitudes of the being is such a prized possession i.e., the mustard seed, the leaven for the loaf, the hidden treasure discovered in the field and the pearl of great price. 

    All of these symbols describe the life-extending and life-enhancing emotions and attitudes that come from this highly prized discovery within ourselves.   Jesus' description of what it is like to own this prize was being born again. (John 3:7) The Apostle Paul described the same spiritual awakening as being transformed. (Romans 12:2)

    Have you ever fantasized about what you would do if you had powers and abilities that were beyond those of other people?  How would you use that power?  We might think that it would be interesting to be able to manipulate weather patterns (Matthew 8:27), change the molecular structure of material objects (Matthew 14:25), heal people from an infirmity simply by touching them, (Mark 8:23f) or paying our taxes by going fishing (Matthew 17:27f). All of these miracles were attributed to Jesus.    

    Before we get into the vital, life-saving message of Jesus, let us first consider if these extraordinary abilities actually accomplished anything to enhance his message of living in the Kingdom of God. 

    Jesus' first miracle was to turn water into wine. Through the ages, people have tried to explain this miracle in ways that the average person could understand. The speculation was that Jesus was illustrating a lesson by taking something as ordinary as water and through a person's attitude, turning it into a loving response that he referenced as vintage wine. (John 2:10)

    However, if Jesus actually turned water into excellent wine, how did such an accomplishment enhance his ministry?  Since there were six large stone vats, each containing twenty-five gallons of expensive wine, we can only imagine what possibilities presented themselves to the wedding guests.  (John 2:6) As John tells us, "Everyone else serves the best wine first and after the guests have drunk a lot, they serve the ordinary wine, but you have kept the best wine for the last."  (John 2:10)

    We may also have wondered if Jesus' power to heal people accomplished anything during his ministry.  Jesus' popularity soared to remarkable levels as word spread from the people who were healed.  (Luke 4:37)

    There are several episodes in the Gospels where Jesus had to escape the vast number of people that kept coming nonstop to be healed. (Luke 4:38f) Once his healing ministry became so hectic and chaotic that Jesus and his disciples went without eating in order to accommodate the hordes of people that needed healing. Witnesses thought that Jesus was losing his mind. (Mark 3:20f) 

    Think about this.  While each healing was miraculous, everyone he healed would eventually become sick again as they aged.  If we possessed the power to heal people or bring people back to life, it would eventually dawn on us that all physical illnesses and deaths are an intimate part of living. Our physical bodies are temporary vehicles and were not created to last forever.      

    There was a time when Jesus decided to show God's power by calling forth Lazarus from where his remains had been placed four days earlier.  (John 11:39) Jesus said to the thief on the cross next to him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43) This must mean that Lazarus had to leave his afterlife environment, return to his physical body and then have to go through the process of dying once again in the future.

    We often find ourselves praying that our loved ones survive a high risk surgical procedure or that they are among the fortunate patients to go into remission from using a new experimental genetically modified protocol.  What are we really asking God to do for our loved ones when every minute world-wide twenty-one children under the age of five die from diseases that are preventable?

    Think of the mixed feeling that Jesus could have experienced by not going to the numerous leper colonies.   If Jesus had the power to heal people of their leprosy and chose not to do so, what was he communicating?   Many people think the same way when God does not intervene and save their loved one's life. 

    Every miracle that Jesus performed was temporary.  No matter how powerful we become, we know that everything that we create by developing and maintaining our health, beauty, wealth and accomplishments, is a temporary experience. Jesus had to discover a new mission.  He had to deliver a message that could have a permanent impact on people's lives.

    This past Thursday, 53-year old Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world when his Amazon stock soared to record highs. Bezos' net worth is 91-billion dollars.  This is miraculous when we consider that 23 years ago, this young man began selling books from his garage.  While his wealth has risen to legendary levels, Bezos' experience of such abundance is temporary. Years from now people will refer to him in past tense. 

    The few followers that stayed with Jesus and his disciples following their being healed was a group of women that financially supported Jesus' ministry. (Luke 8:1-3) 

    Think of it.  With all the rest of the people whom Jesus healed from Bartimaeus who had been born blind (John 9:13f) to the woman who was healed after touching the hem of Jesus' garment (Matthew 9:20f), very few of them are mentioned in the Gospels as having their lives transformed by their experience.

    Jesus was confronted with the same reality that faces most of us today.  The majority of people were in free-fall going into the future with no consistent storyline to guide them on how to manage their miraculous successes as well as their rough patches.   

    The message that has endured for thousands of years had nothing to do with Jesus' extraordinary power to manipulate aspects of our material world.  Even though they were extremely effective in drawing attention to Jesus, his powers remained an external energy that did very little to influence the inner-spirits by which his listeners lived.

    Today, the medical community heals people by the millions each year with everything from heart and face transplants to powerful medications that attack highly resistant strains of bacteria.

    How many patient's lives have been transformed by such miracles? Have patients given up habits that may have contributed to their ill-health? After their recovery, have patients been inspired by gratitude to embrace each day as a new diamond to be polished? Have their attitudes become ones that have made The Golden Rule to become highly visible in their lives?

    The message that has endured for over two thousand years came from Jesus' vision to teach people how to become superhuman. When our lives are motivated and driven by loving energy, we rise above the abilities of most human beings.

    Jesus used physical symbols to define the enthusiasm that comes to a person when they discover and use supernatural powers of spirit to live in this world.  However, these superhuman powers come from a different storyline that Jesus' demonstrated from the cross.   His message was superhuman because few people would ever consider responding with forgiveness after all the torture and abuse that Jesus experienced prior to his crucifixion.

    Superhumans have powers that differ widely from those of super heroes that are featured in comic books and a number of our present movies.  Comic book heroes become the external saviors of the physical world.  They struggle against evil so that truth and good might win.

    People throughout history would much rather gather around and support an Alexander the Great and his vast military than look to and follow a suffering servant as their savior.

    Jesus was teaching and modeling superhuman powers that demonstrated their value even though they might leave his followers feeling helpless to make any difference amid the harsh realities of Caesar's power and authority.

    Jesus was teaching people how to rise above their animal spirits of fear, desire, aggression and control to become truly superhuman.  Is this label a foolish designation for those of us who have recognized this power?

    Not everyone can forgive in the face of gross-injustice.  Not everyone can love enemies engaged in savage, ruthless behavior that defies description.  Not everyone can hold a vision of peace when the physical world is filled with so many cross-current-energies. 

    Jesus did his best to reveal how priceless it is to discover what remains hidden from most people.  Why does something so important remain hidden?  Actually, what Jesus taught is in plain sight.  

    It is we who cannot see it.  It is we who are blinded by the illusions of our human experience to even want to be an angel-in-the-flesh.  We prefer solutions to our lives in the physical world even if all of them are temporary.  Most of us cannot break through the delusions of our physical existence to exhibit the attributes of angels.

    One of the Gnostic Gospels that was discovered in a massive library uncovered in 1945 just above Alexandria, Egypt was The Gospel of Thomas. Near the end of that Gospel, Jesus answers the question from the disciples of when the Kingdom of God will come.  Jesus answered:

The Kingdom will not come by waiting for it.  It will not be a matter of saying, 'Here it is' or 'There it is.'  Rather, The Kingdom of the Father is spread out over the earth and people cannot see it. 

    When we develop this understanding and choose to live it, we have become superhuman, or angels-in-the-flesh.  This is what extending loving energy does to transform how we think, feel and what we do.  We literally rise above all that is temporary to begin living as eternal beings while still inhabiting the vehicles of our solid forms. 

    This is the timeless message that Jesus delivered.  This is the reality of our experience that Jesus described with his metaphors of the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure and the pearl of enormous value.  

    The reason Jesus could not heal our inner spirits is that such healing is our choice to make.  Not even Jesus could do that for us.  We have to want to sell everything of value in this world in order to own what has extreme value in the world of spirit.



Ever-present God, we are grateful that we can enter our place of worship and experience quietness within our spirits.  We thank you for the symbols that surround us, symbols reminding us of a peaceful dimension of our lives.  This awareness keeps us centered.  Jesus taught us how to rise above the influences from our world, yet, we often stumble.  We become frustrated when life violates our sense of fairness.  Renew our trust, O God, that your guidance is present in every experience.  Just as our successes bring joy, so do our stumbles become teachable moments to refine how we think.     Amen.



Eternal God, how grateful we are that living our discipleship impacts the lives of others in ways that we cannot measure.  We do not know how many times our peaceful listening skills dispelled the hostility of another. We do not realize how our generosity of spirit has kindled the same spirit in other people.  We have no idea how carrying our burdens has inspired others how to carry theirs.  We are often blind to responses to life that come naturally to us from habits formed long ago.  Jesus said, "As you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me." In our own humble and unassuming way, that is what many of us have been doing for years.

We truly feel blessed, O God, that our experiences refine and define us in degrees that we seldom recognize. What a joy it is to realize that salvation is not something that we experience at the end of life -- it is an energizing power that we have now.  Thank you, that during our living, you often hold a mirror in front of us, letting us know that we have become the answer to someone's prayer. 

Thank you for teaching us that it is in giving that we truly learn to live.  It is in smiling that we radiate our joy and confidence.  It is through fellowship that we learn about each other.  It is by extending our love that we learn who we have the potential to become. Bless us as we continue our ministry together as Centenary's church family.  We ask these things through the spirit of Jesus, who taught his disciples to say when they prayed . . .