Friday, February 6, 2009

The Death of Captain America, Pt. 1

As I mentioned last week, I bought and read Ed Brubaker's monumental work, The Death of Captain America, Vols. 2 & 3.

What impresses me is how Cap is NOT dead - how he lives on in each of his friends, his grilfriend, his partners and fellow heroes. How he was an unstoppable force, and could only be brought down by betrayal by the person he loved the most - Agent 13 nee Sharon Carter. Sharon, under the influence of Dr. Faustus brainwashing, shot him as he lay on the steps to the courthouse.

All Steve can think is of how to get the innocents to safety.

Later, we hear what he whispers to Sharon as he dies.

"You take my breath away..."

Those were his final words to his love. Man, that hurts.

As a Christian, the image of a noble hero being betrayed and killed unjustly in front of God and country on the very steps of power is nothing new.

But what I think hurts me most - and you can see it in Bruce Marchiano's portrayal of Jesus Christ - is how upset Jesus was that everyone wanted him - their friend, trying to speak the truth to them - dead. [This clip is from Matthew, the Visual Bible. It's long, but watch the first two minutes.]

We usually don't think of the emotional price Jesus paid. We see glimpses of it. We know He wept over the death of Lazarus, over Jerusalem, over the separation and isolation from the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, but we just blow right past it if we do not know Jesus as a personal friend.

If we don't care if He cries, it is because we do not know Him.

We are told we can grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We can make God unhappy.

I know I did that when I was a pagan, a 'Christian' in name only - but I am afraid of grieving Him by a poor witness more and more. I forget the lostness, the darkness and depression that ruled every day of my life. Only sex, gaming or a good beer would grant me temporary relief.

I did not know God. I did not know I "took his breath away."

When Jesus died on the cross, we did just that. We are told He gave up His Spirit. Gave it up - not that it was taken from Him. Interestingly, in the Greek and Hebrew, the words for Spirit and Wind are the same. Pneuma in the Greek, ru'ach in the Hebrew.

When God breathed on Adam, and gave him His breath, Adam became a "living being". The image is close to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (cf. Elisha raising the Shunammite's son from the dead). It is God who gives us life by His power, His breath.

"You take my breath away."

Only someone you truly love can do that. Cap said that to Sharon as he died.

Christ says it to His church, His bride.

I know it is a weird metaphor, but perhaps you can now see why that image is so evocative, so touching.

Once upon a time, it happened.

True love, truly dying with passion for his beloved.

Happy Valentines' week, True Believers.