Top 10 Ways Superman is Just Like Jesus
“What?” We hear you say, there is no way the blue flying man with underpants issues is anything like Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God and the Savior of the World. We can see why you might think that as at first glance they are very different characters. Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God and worship him as part of the holy trinity. Filmgoers and comic book readers might enjoy reading about Superman and his adventures in the pursuit of ‘Truth, Justice and the American Way’, they might even admire him but he is not worshiped.
If you go beyond the surface level, however, and look a little deeper you will see that there are a number of striking similarities between the two characters. Superman may not be God or even a god but he comes pretty darn close. How close? Well when you sit down and really think about it you would be surprised so to help you along the way here is our top 10 list of reasons why Superman is just like Jesus.
10 . Neither Superman nor Jesus are from Earth
Superman was born on the planet Krypton and named Kal-El. His father, Jor-El sent him to Earth to save him from the disaster that was about to befall their dying planet. At the time Jor-El specifically said that Superman would look human but his mother confirmed that ‘He won’t be one of them’. Jor-El later confirmed this to Superman during a holographic meeting when he told him ‘You have been raised as a human being, but you are not one of them’. Many of the human beings Superman meets during the course of his adventures acknowledge that he is something different including his adoptive parents, the other kids at his school and Lex Luthor.
Jesus was also not wholly of the Earth, although born to a human mother he is the son of God who, although he made humanity in his image is not himself human. Jesus himself acknowledge this when he said to his followers ‘ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.’
So Superman is from another planet and Jesus is ‘not of this world’, a striking similarity in origin!
9. Superman and Jesus are both inexorably linked to a heavenly star
Superman escapes Krypton as a baby swaddled in blankets and laid in a manger-like space ship. The ship itself is made of many crystals set in a starburst pattern not dissimilar to the way that Christ’s halo is painted in some older paintings. As the ship travels through space it looks very like a Christmas star.
While Jesus did not travel to earth on a star (he was born from Mary a human woman) his birth was heralded by a wandering star. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the Magi knew that Jesus had been or was due soon to be born because they had ‘seen his star in the east’ and the star ‘went before them til it came and stood over where the young child was’.
The similarities between the imagery are significant and show us that Superman is intended to be an allegory for Jesus, a savior for all mankind.
8. Like Jesus, Superman hides his real identity
Jesus, grew up as the son of a humble carpenter, an extraordinary man hiding in a cloak of an ordinary life. He became a simple Rabbi but as time went on he started to perform ever more impressive miracles. Every now and then, however, in his early life something of his special nature shows through. At the age of 12 he visited the temple and the Rabbis there were amazed at his detailed knowledge of scripture.
Like Jesus Superman is raised by an ordinary human family, he goes to school and enjoys an ordinary life although at times he cannot help but show off and run faster than a train. When he grows up and starts to answer his calling to help humanity, his actions are frequently described as ‘miraculous’.
The similarities do not end there. Like Jesus Christ the son of God who appeared on earth as the carpenter and itinerant rabbi Superman hides his identity as Clark Kent. Just as Jesus was friends with the men who later wrote the Gospels, Clark Kent kept close company with journalists who wrote about the exploits of Superman. For both Jesus and Superman the alternative identities they chose were diametrically opposed to the reality. The humble carpenter was, in reality the Son of God and omnipotent and powerful beyond belief; Superman, capable of feats of unimaginable strength and intellect hides as the mild mannered, bumbling Clark Kent.
7. Superman and Jesus were both brought up by a human family
While Jesus was the Son of God he was ‘incarnate of the Virgin Mary’ and was ‘made man’. He was brought up by his human mother and his stepfather, Joseph, who protected him from the wrath of Herod by escaping with the family into Egypt. He continued to care for the young Jesus, teaching him his trade until Joseph died, probably before Jesus started his work of ministry.
Like Jesus Superman was raised by a loving human family. Jonathan and Martha (the names are surprisingly similar to Joseph and Mary) Kent adopted Superman when they found him at the site of his spaceship crash. They loved and nurtured him during his childhood and Jonathan Kent, understanding that his son had special powers even told him that he had another father who had sent him to Earth ‘For a Reason’. Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack before Superman truly comes in to his powers and destiny.
Both Superman and Jesus are nurtured and cared for by earthly parents. Their adoptive fathers die before they see their son truly develop their power and live up to the legacy of their biological fathers. Their human mothers watch as their sons grow, helping them understand their destiny and guiding them through life before seeing them grow into the divine/superhuman men they were always meant to be.
6. Jesus and Superman share a mission to help humanity
This is one of the strongest similarities between the Man of Steel and the Son of God. Jesus came to Earth to fulfil the Hebrew prophecy of the Messiah, the name Jesus Christ is a literal translation into Greek from the Hebrew Jesus the Messiah. His birth and life fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Jesus himself was aware of his divine origin from a young age. When, age 12, his parents chided him for worrying them for sneaking off to talk with the elders in the temple he told them “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?’.
Jesus preached his message, not for his own self-glorification saying ‘I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seekth and judgeth’. His message was primarily concerned with divine love and the potential of redemption for all. He exhorted people to be aware of their own shortcomings and compassionate of the shortcomings of others saying ‘he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone’. He was also capable of being very angry when occasion demanded such as when he had to throw the money lenders from the temple.
Like Jesus, Superman has a mission to use his powers for greater good. His earthly father knows that he is put on Earth for a reason, when he is about 18 he travels to his Arctic Fortress of Solitude where he is able to meet with a holographic version of his biological father Jor-El who tells him all about his background and that he was sent to earth to be a light to show them the way to a path of good. Superman never seeks to use his powers for his own benefit but rather to help the people of Earth, he never seeks to make people feel indebted to him, instead he talks down his contribution and talks up that of others, for example when he delivers Lex Luthor to prison he tells the warden that they are all part of the same team’. Superman always keeps his promises even when they cause him personal pain, such as when he diverted the Hackensack missile as promised to Miss Tesmacher as opposed to saving his friends in California.
Like Jesus in the Temple Superman is capable of becoming and of showing his anger. He becomes particularly angry with Lex Luthor and chastises him in strong terms calling him a ‘warped brain’. His alter ego Clark Kent also exhibits many of the traits associated with Jesus such as when he turns the other cheek during a violent street mugging.
God cast the angel Lucifer (who later became the devil Satan) from heaven, at the start of the Superman origin story Jor-El is a key player in the decision to exile the three criminals (an unholy trinity) from Krypton and into the phantom zone.