Get Mad AND Get Even

The Amazing Spider Man 2 (Andrew Garfield)

Before he got bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker was a nice guy.  After he got bitten by the spider, he was still a nice guy.  He was just much stronger and faster.  His powers did not change his personality.  That was not the case for Max Dillon.  He was a nice guy and tried his best to help everyone.  He was capable but was constantly overlooked and undervalued.  However, when he was repairing an electrical problem at Oscorp and was struck by a surge of electricity, he developed the power to generate vast amounts of electricity and his personality totally changed.  He was overwhelmed by his desire for revenge.

I. The desire for revenge can make you a monster.

Most of us remember the verse that says “love your neighbor as yourself.”  It is the second half of the Great Commandment.  We hear this phrase a lot.  What most of us don’t remember is that it is only the second half of the verse.  The verse begins by telling us not to hold grudges or desire revenge.

Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV) 
18  You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. 

II. The desire for revenge makes you assume the place of God.

None of us is capable of getting even.  It will never be even.  One of the people will always feel they got the worse deal.  The only was for things to be even is to let God handle the situation.  This is a principle of the Old Testament that is said again in the New Testament in two separate places.

Deuteronomy 32:35 (NKJV) 
35  Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; Their foot shall slip in due time; For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things to come hasten upon them.’ 


Romans 12:19 (NKJV) 
19  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.


Hebrews 10:30 (NKJV) 
30  For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”


III. The desire for revenge leads you to oppose God.

The religious leaders of Jesus day were threatened by His popularity and they were quite insulted when Jesus denounced them publicly.  They wanted revenge.  This led them to using their political influence to get Jesus arrested and eventually executed.  They remembered Jesus’ teaching and took steps to insure that no one ever followed Jesus again.

Matthew 27:62-64 (NKJV) 
62  On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 
63  saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 
64  Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”


Their plan backfired.  First of all, the disciples weren’t thinking about Jesus’ teaching about coming back from the dead.  Secondly, Jesus was raised from the dead, just like He said.  The tomb was empty after all and the Jewish leaders had to pay off the soldiers to spread their propaganda.

Matthew 28:11-15 (NKJV) 
11  Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 
12  When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 
13  saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 
14  And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 
15  So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.


The saddest part is that these religious leaders knew the truth, that Jesus was resurrected. Otherwise, they could have stopped all the rumors about Jesus right away by simply producing the body. The desire for revenge had twisted them so much that they kept being against God even though they knew for sure that Jesus was raised from the dead.

D.I.Y. Religion- Build Yourself A God

The Amazing Spiderman (Andrew Garfield, 2012)

One of the reasons for human suffering is that we try to get around God.  We try to improve our situation without consulting the One who controls all situations.  Sometimes we even think that we can improve ourselves by our own efforts.  We imagine a world where mankind itself has achieved next-level status. Many books and movies consider the possibility of the next stage of human evolution.

One notable example is Dr. Curtis Connors, who we meet in The Amazing Spiderman.  He was brilliant geneticist working for Oscorp, who was researching how to combine human DNA with that of a lizard in order to allow his body to regrow his arm.  The combination of the two elements caused him to regrow his arm, but also transformed him into a lizard monster.  He still had genius-level intelligence, but lost his sanity.  He wanted to achieve god-like status for himself.

Human beings are weak, pathetic, feeble-minded creatures. Why be human at all when we can be so much more – faster, stronger and smarter? – Dr. Curtis Connors, the Lizard

After the flood, the people that settled in the land of Shinardecided that they could build their own tower and make themselves equal to God.

“Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  – Genesis 11:4

In the thousands of years that humans have existed on the earth, we have not evolved.  We have perhaps gained inched in average height.  We certainly have more scientific knowledge and better toys.  People are not smarter now than in centuries past.  Let me give three examples:

1)  Consider that the Bible was passed along orally and that people typically memorized the entire Torah, including all the genealogies and tabernacle furnishings.  

2)  Adam, the first man, invented named for all the animals in the world. Admittedly, some names are beautiful and majestic (Platypus, Ocelot) while others are just their sounds (wolf, gecko) or their activity (ant-eater).  But still, he named them all.

3)  Around 240 B.C., Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth using a stick and counting steps.  His estimate was about 24,000 miles and now we know it is 24,900 miles (off by 3.75%).

The fact of the matter is that we cannot get better without God.  Without God we are sinful and hard-hearted.  God can make us new, clean, and allow us to be what we should.

There is no next phase of human evolution but with God, we do have something to look forward to –

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-52

Out of This World: Earth’s Invasion by Venom

Spiderman 3 (Tobey Maguire, 2007)

Lest we forget, God is good and everything He does and makes is good.  He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5).  At every stage of Creation, God paused and pronounced it good.  So why is there pain and suffering in the world?  One answer is the presence of evil.  Evil exists, but it is not natural.  It does not belong here.  After Creation, Evil invaded the world by the Enemy, who had already fallen from heaven.  

In the third Spiderman movie, we see a black entity from outer space land on the earth.  It touches Peter and begins to reshape his entire personality until he is consumed with evil.  This personification of evil assumes a name, Venom.  One common thread through the entire Spider-verse is that Peter attempts to rescue the villains.  In many cases, he is successful but not with Venom.  This is because, as Venom says, “I like being bad.”

In the same way, God would prefer that everyone gets saved.  Jesus’ death has enough force to redeem everyone in the world, and that gift is available to all.  Yet, some will not accept the gift Jesus offers.  In His earthly ministry, some turned away from Jesus.  One of His own disciples left and betrayed the group.  In Paul’s missionary journeys, he shared the gospel with everyone from paupers to kings.  One king, Herod Antipas, even said that he was “almost persuaded.”  Some people just prefer being bad.

Your life does not have to be controlled by evil. If the devil has his way, he will reshape your personality until you are consumed. That is why God tells us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds toward Christ (Romans 12:1-2). Don’t give in to the invasion of evil. It doesn’t belong in this world and it isn’t going to win. Don’t turn down Jesus offer of salvation and let Him redeem you.

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

Harry Osborne, the Second Goblin

Spiderman 3 (Tobey Maguire)

The third episode in the Spiderman saga had our hero, Peter Parker, pitted against three villains.  The second of these opponents represented a very sad story.  Peter’s best friend was Harry Osborne and this friendship thrived, even though their backgrounds were very different.  While Peter was an orphan from a poor family, Harry was the son of Norman Osborne, a wealthy CEO.  We may remember that Harry’s father became the Green Goblin.  In a final showdown with Spiderman, Harry’s father accidently killed himself with his own flying machine.  As a final request, Norman asked Peter not to tell Harry that he was the evil Green Goblin.  As Peter, in his Spiderman suit, returned the body of Norman to his bedroom, Harry walked in and saw Spiderman next to his dead father.  Harry assumed that Spiderman killed his father.  Peter did not divulge his secret which would affect Harry’s memory of his father.

Harry carried this grudge against Spiderman and his anger led him to become the second Green Goblin.  He even learned to operate the flying machine that his father had used.  His anger increased when he found out that his arch-enemy Spiderman was actually his best friend Peter Parker.  The entire situation was based on a misunderstanding.  Harry did not have all the information.

Sometimes we get mad at other people, or even at God without knowing all the information.  We make an assumption from our limited perspective and end up carrying grudges and damaging relationships.  When we do not understand a problem or when we cannot explain the suffering we experience, we must trust in the things we do know.  We know that God totally loves us and we know that God knows everything, including the future.  

Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

The Bible offers us a great example in the life of Joseph.  He experienced years of suffering at the hands of his brothers, who sold him into slavery, and his masters in Egypt, who had him thrown into prison.  He could have carried a grudge and retaliated when he later had the opportunity to have his brothers killed.  Instead, he recognized that the entire situation had been engineered by God as a means for God to save the whole country.  He told his brothers, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20).

Let us not make bad assumptions let our anger control us. Instead, let us remember that God knows everything there is to know, and He loves us too much to hurt us.

A Victim of Circumstance

Sand Man

Spider-Man 3, 2007

In Spider-Man three, Flint Marco, who is played by Thomas Haden Church, he needs money, and it’s presumably for his daughter who is sick, so he decides to rob a liquor store with an accomplice. In making his getaway, he tries to steal a car from Peter Parker’s uncle Ben. He has a gun that he doesn’t intend to use, but his partner startles him and somehow, uncle Ben winds up dead. Flint is later arrested and is sent to prison, but he escapes prison and goes to visit his daughter. He tries to explain to her that he had no choice. As he continues his escape, he enters this secure area and falls into a particle accelerator, and is molecularly bonded with the sand. Now Marco can change shape and is forced into a battle with Spider-Man who is bent on revenge. At every turn, the sand man has been reacting to the forces around him. He is the ultimate victim of circumstance.

Well, the Bible tells us that sin, like this, is a slippery slope. One bad decision leads to another, and another, and another, until a person feels hopelessly out of control and they place all the blame on things that are outside of them. They play the victim card and they say, just like Flint Marco, “I had no choice”.

The first psalm paints a vivid picture of this digression. “The blessed man does not walk in the council of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful.”

Notice that progression: walk, stand, sit. You walk in the wrong counsel, that leads to standing in the wrong place. And once you’ve stood a while, you finally decide to sit down. And now you’re joining the wrong group. The man may think he has no choice, but in actuality, the decision was made a long time ago at the very top of that slippery slope. The life of Solomon gives us a great example of this. He knew the command of God not to marry foreign women or they would turn his heart away from God, and yet he persisted. He was deeply attached to many women and he began to build places for them to worship, then he joined in worshiping with them. You can read about that in first kings 11.

So if we feel we are stuck in victim mode, we have to break away from this cycle the same way that Sand Man did. When Peter forgave him, Sand Man stopped fighting. So, don’t be a victim. Let God forgive you and you can rise above that slippery slope.

The Road to Hell

The Downfall of Doc Ock

Spiderman 2, 2004  (Tobey Maguire)

From the pages of the comic, Doc Ock was superbly brought to life by Alfred Molina.  Like Norman Osborne, Otto Octavius was a scientist, who ended up as his own test subject.  He had developed a set of “arms” that were guided by artificial intelligence yet connected to his own spine and brain stem.  One tiny little device was to be a safeguard restricting the arms from controlling him.  After he donned the mechanical arms, the safeguard subsequently malfunctioned and the artificial intelligence in the machines began to control him.

Initially, the research of Dr. Octavius was driven by the desire to provide an abundant source of energy for all mankind.  We can notice here the good intentions behind the plan, but as the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  As the vision approached reality, Dr. Octavius saw that he could be the one to control this massive energy.  He desired to have “the power of the sun in the palm of his hand.”  This lust for power and the influence of the arms combined to transform Otto Octavius into Doc Ock.

The lust for power was also responsible for the transformation of Lucifer, an archangel, into Satan.  In the book of Isaiah, God foretells the return of Israel and the subsequent downfall of the king of Babylon.  Through the imagery, we realize that we are really being told of the fall of Satan before he showed up as a serpent in the Garden of Eden.  Notice his lust for power in Isaiah 14:12-15.  Initially he is a “shining morning star” but he falls to the deepest regions of Hell.  There are five “I will” statements that display his lust for power:

1.  I will ascend to the heavens (v13a),

2.  I will set up my throne above the stars of God (v13b),

3.  I will sit on the mount of the gods (v13c),

4.  I will ascend above the highest clouds (v14a), and 

5.  I will make myself like the Most High (v14b).

No matter your intentions, desiring power will put you in league with Hell. Instead, let us spend our time and energy glorifying God. He is the One who truly holds the power of the sun in His hand because He holds all creation in His hand. Now that is power.

Green With Envy

The Villain of Spiderman 1, 2002  (Tobey Maguire)

Norman Osborne, played by Willem Dafoe, established the template for most of the Spiderman villains.  He was a scientist who ended up being his own test subject and the side effects were catastrophic.  The serum that he developed was intended to make a human stronger and enhance performance.  At risk was his lucrative contract with the military so he rushed the human trials, took the serum himself, and subsequently went crazy.  He was envious of Spiderman’s abilities and that envy literally turned him into a “green-eyed monster,” the Green Goblin.  

God’s Word warns us about the dangers of envy.  The last of the Ten Commandments is against covetousness and it is a sort of summation of the other commandments.  When the apostle Paul picked one example to illustrate the function of the Law, he chose to highlight covetousness because that experience is universal (Romans 7:7-8).  Elsewhere, the Bible tells us simply to put envy and covetousness aside (Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:5, I Peter 2:1).

Truthfully, we do not need to take the mad scientist’s serum to be destroyed by envy. We have already taken it. This is a natural state of fallen humanity. What we need is the gift of God by which we can be free from envy’s control over us.

A Christmas Prayer

As With Gladness Men of Old, verse 4

Holy Jesus, every day

Keep us in the narrow way,

And when earthly things are passed

Bring our ransomed souls at last

Where they need no star to guide

Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

This fourth verse of the hymn is all a prayer and very appropriate for Christmas.  The first line is a prayer for today, as we live on Earth.  The choice of paths is always before us – God’s way or a different way.  The only way to avoid disaster is to keep focused on Jesus.  We can give voice to this prayer every morning. 

The second line is a prayer for the future.  At the end of time, or the end of our time, we are going to be faced with an eternity either in heaven with Jesus or in hell without Him.  The choice of destinations is made now.  Today is the day to know for sure that you are going to heaven.

The final phrase lets us know some beautiful things about heaven:1. Jesus will be our light-source.2. Jesus will not be hidden.3. Jesus is there.

When the wise men found Jesus, they were overwhelmed with joy (Matt 2:10). When you have found Jesus, you have found everything! Make sure Jesus is everything this Christmas

The Perfect Christmas Gift

As With Gladness Men of Old, verse 3

As they offered gifts most rare at that manger rude and bare,

So may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy,

All our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee our heavenly King.

Advertisers pull out all the stops around Christmas trying to convince you that you should buy their product for someone or talk them into getting it for you.  Television commercials used to describe their gadgets as the “perfect Christmas gift.”  Well, there has one been one perfect Christmas gift – that is the gift that God gave us, His Son Jesus.  Still, we can trace the tradition of gift-giving at Christmas to the wise men who visited Jesus.  

We have traditionally considered that there were three wise men, although the Bible never says that.  We are only told that there were three kinds of gifts.  The verse of this song depicts the wise men offering their gifts at the manger, although we know from Scripture that Jesus was already in a house by the time the wise men arrived.  Be that as it may, I don’t want us to miss the point of the beautiful hymn which reminds us of the value of the gifts they offered.  They brought gifts of great value to present to Jesus.  After all, they were meeting a King!

~ The gift of gold recognizes that Jesus is King.  Gold has been the foundation of most of the earth’s civilizations.

~ The gift of frankincense recognizes that Jesus is God.  Incense was used in worship as the priest offered prayers inside the Tabernacle.  

~ The gift of myrrh recognizes that Jesus is a sacrifice.  Myrrh is a strong perfume from a plant that is bitter.  In the wilderness, the children of Israel named one place Marah, because the water was too bitter to drink until Moses intervened (Exodus 15:23).  In Jesus’ day, the spice was used to anoint a dead body before burial.  This gift pointed to His destiny, to die for the sins of the world.

The exhortation of this hymn is for us to offer gifts to Jesus in the manner of the wise men. We should give to Jesus our best, things that are valuable and pure. An alloy is a mixture of metals, not pure like a single element would be. What we offer to Jesus should not be mixed with the impurities that come from the world. God gave us the Perfect Christmas gift, His Perfect Son. Let us respond by giving Him our very selves

Come And Worship

As With Gladness Men of Old, verse 2

As with joyful steps they sped

To that lowly manger bed,

There to bend the knee before

Him whom heaven and earth adore,

So, may we with willing feet 

Ever seek the mercy seat.

The goal of the wise men was to worship the new King (Matt 2:2).  This verse of the carol contains several beautiful pictures of worship.  The first is a picture of joy.  Worship should be an expression of the joy in our hearts.  Remember that we are commanded to rejoice and praising God for all His goodness to us is always an occasion for joyous worship.  The next picture here is of “bending the knee.”  This one of the traditional postures of worship and reverence.  The most common word in the Greek New Testament for worship is “proskunew,” which refers to bowing down and bending knees.  A third mental image of worship is described as “willing feet.”  This reminds us that true worship can never be coerced.  Worship acts can be demanded and payments may be extracted but true worship goes beyond an act and requires the heart of the worshipper.  The worshipper must submit his will for true worship to take place.  Our feet must be willing to make the worship journey.  The fourth and final word picture in this verse takes us all the way back to the Old Testament, to the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle.  On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrificial lamb onto the lid of the Ark.  The lid, or cover, was called the Mercy Seat.  When the blood was applied, the sins of the people were “covered.”  The exhortation which ends the second verse challenges us to seek that Mercy Seat, so that through the shed blood of Christ our sins may be covered.  

True worship will be a joyous expression of our submission to Christ because of His sacrifice which covers our sins