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The other night Public Television was broadcasting “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” I had never seen it (of course I was sooooo young when it first came out). I don’t really recommend it, but I guess I watched the last part of it out of theological curiosity more than anything else. Liz and I were both moved by the crucifixion scene. And we sat there waiting for the resurrection…but all that came were the credits. It ended with the death of Christ – that’s all folks!
Jesus with no Easter? Christ’s life with no resurrection? I’m sorry, Mr. Andrew Lloyd Webber, that’s not all folks. Jesus Christ has destroyed death by his resurrection.
On the TV show called the X-Files, they had a story about a family that used to keep an ugly looking creature in their basement. And what was even stranger was that people would bring their sick and dying family members over to see this creature and they would come back healthy. When Scully and Mulder went to see what was happening, they found out that this creature was able to take people’s infirmities on himself. So if they came to him and had cancer, he was able to take the cancer and his body, suffering a few days, and then vomit the cancer out. So as this creature lived on, it became uglier and uglier as it was contaminated with diseases, until it finally took on the disease of death and died. It was a strange story, but I thought it was a good illustration of what Jesus does with our sins. He doesn’t just heal us up our guilt and sin by giving us some medicine. When Jesus went to the cross, he had to take on our infirmities, our sins, our guilt, and our punishment.
In the movie, A Few Good Men, a sergeant and a private stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, attempts to demonstrate that the murder was actually the result of an order that the two marines had received from a higher-up. The order to help train the fellow marine ended up causing the death of that marine. When Tom Cruise begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney quickly tries to strike a plea bargain, offering to reduce the sentence from 20 years down to six months.
Tom Cruise goes to tell his clients the good news, that in six months they would be home free. Harold, the marine sergeant, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial. Tom Cruise is mortified. If the case went to trial, they would loose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars. In a powerful point in the movie, Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would be so stupid as to refuse a plea bargain of six months. Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Tom Cruise looks at him and says, “What?” He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold explains that this is their code. The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in a military prison, then so be it.” So Tom Cruise tells him, “If you want to go to jail for the rest of your life, you go right ahead.”
I’m wondering if we aren’t sometimes like Tom Cruise in that movie. Instead of seeing our mission as a driving force behind all we do, we look at it as a nice slogan on a piece of paper. I find evidence of this when I see people putting their personal agendas ahead of our mission as a church. When we focus more on what the church can do for us rather than what we can do for the mission of the church, then our mission becomes irrelevant.
Dr. Bruce Emmert
Indian Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favorite movies—it’s great entertainment but it packs a powerful punch of a message about finding happiness and joy [Show the clip toward the end of the movie when Elsa has fallen to her death grasping for the grail and then Indiana nearly dies as he reaches for the Holy Grail even as his father is trying to save him.]
Indiana Jones is grasping for the Holy Grail even as he is about to plunge to his death. His father implores him, “Indiana, let it go.” All too often it is not what we lack that inhibits us from experiencing abundant life: what keeps us from experiencing life abundant is the stuff of earth that we do not want to let go of or to lose. Jesus said that he came to give life, and give it abundantly. If that is the case, then...
In the movie, Remember the Titans, the coach pushed the students to the brink of their abilities. Some accused him of trying to ruin them and break their spirits. But by pushing them - he made them stronger. It prepared them for a difficult season of football - and in the end they went undefeated and won the championship. If he hadn’t pushed them, they would not have pushed themselves. A team without discipline ends up weak and soft - unprepared for battle. And so, like a coach that pushes his players - God pushes us for our good. People can blame God for being too extreme all they want. And they will. “God took my son - so I won’t come to church. He told me I was going to hell. I can’t believe in a God that would punish in hell. He told me I couldn’t divorce my lazy husband. I can’t follow a Lord like that. That’s too extreme. ” But the Lord continues to push. Why? Because the stakes with God are not just winning a state championship. An eternity of either bliss or fire is at stake.
In the movie Brave Heart, Mel Gibson plays the role of a man from Scotland whose name was Wallace. It was a great movie - very graphic in the battle scenes, but it really gave you a feel of what battles were like back in those days.
Wallace was trying to win Scotland’s freedom from the cruel rule of England. The King of England at this time was a man named Longshanks. He was as cruel as he was wicked. Longshanks hatred for both Scotland and Wallace grew as the movie progressed and Wallace won many victories against England..
But in the end Wallace is betrayed by a friend and captured by Longshanks who is now older and very ill. It is Longshanks plan to not merely kill Wallace but to have him beg for mercy and a quick death.
As the movie ends Wallace is brought to the court yard before a jeering crowd - they mock him, spit at him, and throw things at him.Then the King's executioner begins to torture him,telling him that if he begs for mercy they will make the death quick.
Meanwhile Longshanks is up in his room - on his death bed - waiting to hear his enemy Wallace beg for mercy....
After not responding, Wallace tries to speak - though it is difficult because his throat is messed up from being tortured.The man in charge of the torture gets the crowd to be silent so they all can hear Wallace beg. But instead of begging for mercy, Wallace summons up what little strength he has left to scream with great force the word --FREEDOM!!!!
“He led them up the steep slope out of the river valley and then slightly to the right apparently by the very same route which they had used that afternoon in coming from the hill of the stone table.
On and on he lead them into dark shadows out into pale moonlight. Getting their feet wet with the heavy dew he looked somehow different from the Aslan they knew. His tail and his head hung low and he walked slowly as if he were very, very tired. Then when they were crossing a wide open place where there were no shadows for them to hide in he stopped and looked around. It was no good trying to run away so they came towards him. When they were closer he said,
“Oh children, children why are you following me?” “We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy. And then felt sure that she say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.
“Please may we come with you wherever you’re going,” asked Susan. “Well-” said Alsan and seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “I should be glad of company to-night. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go alone.”
“Oh thank you, thank you” and “We will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
“Aslan! Dear Aslan! SaidLucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but hat they had longed to do ever since they first saw him- buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fir and stroked it and, in so doing, walked with him. And presently they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the stone table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when they got to the last tree (it was one that had some bushes about it) Alsan stopped and said,
“Oh children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen. Fairwell.”
A great crowd of people where standing all around the stone table. And though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monsterous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures who I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let your read this book- Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, and Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the witches side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the table, was the Witch herself.
A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing towards them, and for a moment even the Witch seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild fierce laugh.
“The fool, she cried. The fool has come. Bind him fast.”
Lucy and Susan held their breath waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four hags, grinning at leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others- evil dwarfs and apes- rushed in to help them and between them they rolled the huge Lion round on his back and tied all his four paws together. Shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him towards the Stone Table.
“Stop,” said the witch, “Let him first be shaved.”
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling glod began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without his mane. The enemies saw the difference.
“Why he is only a great cat after all!” cried one.
Is that what we were afraid of?” said another
And they surged around him jeering at him. Saying things like “Puss Puss! Pour pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat? And would you like a saucer of milk Pussums?”
“Oh how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” For now that the first shock was over, the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two of three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find thire courage, and for a few minutes the two girls coud not even see him- so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, and spitting on him jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. Are they still afraid of him even now?”
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four hags holding four torches, stood at the corners of Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. The she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone not steel and it was of a strange evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
“And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you and instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him our of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
The story doesn’t end there just as the Christmas story is only the beginning of the Christ story.
(From chapter 15):
As soon as the wood was silent again Susan crept out into the open hill-top. The moon was getting low and the thin clouds were passing across it, but still they could see the shape of the lion laying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fir, what was left of it and cried till the could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each others hands for lonliness and cried again. And then again were silent. At last Lucy said,
“I can’t bear to look at that horrible muzzle. I wonder if I could take it off?”
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it, (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and foam as well as they could. And it was all the more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.
“I wonder, could we untie him as well? Said Susan presently. But the enemies out pure spitefulness had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been- if you’ve been up all night, and cried til you have no more tears left in you- you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead clam, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things. One was that the sky on the East side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet. At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter? Nothing mattered now! But at last she saw what whatever-it-was that had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan’s body. She peered closer. They were little grey things.
“Ugh!” said Susan from the other side of the table. “How beastly! They are horrid little mice crawling all over him. Go away you little beasts!” And she raised her hand to frighten them away. “Wait!” said Lucy who had been looking at them more closely still, can you see what they are doing?”
Both girls bent down and stared.
“I do believe!” said Susan. “But how queer! They ’re nibbling away at the cords.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Lucy. “I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things- they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.”
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the East was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter- all except the very big one low down on the eastern horizon. They felt colder than they had been all night. The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead faced looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.
In the wood behind them a bird gave a chuckling sound. It had been so still for hours and hours that it startled them. Then another bird answered it. Soon there were birds singing all over the place.
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night.
“I am so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I said Susan. Let’s walk about a bit.”
“What’s that? Said Lucy clutching Susan’s arm.
“I – I feel afraid to turn around,” said Susan something awful is happening.
“They’re doing something worse to him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned pulling Susan around with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything looked so different- all the colors and shadows were changed- that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the tow girls rushing back to the table.
“Oh, it’s too bad, sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who has done it?” Susan cried. “What does it mean? Is it magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked around. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then,” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You not- not a-? asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.
Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forhead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh you’re real, you’re real Oh Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were something calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic there’s magic deeper still that she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back into stillness darkenss before time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
Shadowlands -- a Broadway play, later made into a motion picture -- tells the story of C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy . . .of their intense love for one another . . .and of the shadow that was cast across their life. Shadowlands portrays their struggle with Joy’s cancer. After Joy’s death, Lewis wrote these words: It is incredible how much happiness, how much joy we sometimes had together after all hope was gone.”
The comfort that is at the heart of those words is also at the heart of Advent. The answers to the paradoxes of living by dying, finding peace o...
Jackie Chan movie. This man is very innovative in the way that he makes fight scenes. Instead of just using normal karate chops and the like, he will use common every day items and create unbelievable fight scenes with them. In one scene, he fights off dozens of men with a common every day step ladder. I suppose some would be unimpressed with his action scenes. But when I saw that, I couldn’t believe how he orchestrated the action. In a sense, that’s what’s so amazing about God! But a hundred times more! He creates salvation through the birth of a boy - something that we see every day. He decides to save the world and bring life - through all things - an instrument of death - a cross! You would expect God - a powerful God - to use power to save the world. You would expect God to try and impress us with powerful miracles to convert us. But instead, He uses weakness! He uses the staff of His Word! With this simple tool - words - God converts us! He gets us to put our hands over our mouths - crawl on our knees before Him - and turn in fear to HIM for forgiveness. When we see God take us out of this sinful world and plant us into HIS kingdom - it brings us out of our dens of self righteousness and into the light of his SON! That’s exciting! If that doesn’t at least bring some joy to your heart - you’d best pinch yourself - because you must be dead!
"Today I am a horse, Dear God, did you have to make my poor old horse lose his shoe just before the Sabbath? That wasn't nice. It's enough you pick on me, Tevye, bless me with 5 daughters, a life of poverty. What have You got against my horse? Sometimes I think when things are too quiet up there, You say to Yourself:"Let's see, what kind of mischief can I play on my friend, Tevye?" Tevye pulls his cart farther down the lane, silently, looking toward heaven and continues talking, "As the Good Book says, Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed. In other words, send us the cure, we?ve got the sickness already. I'm not really complaining---after all, with Your help, I'm starving to death. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor, but it's no great honor either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"