Thursday, January 11, 2007

Calvary's Green Mile

My friend Tasha currently teaches a class at her church entitled "Culture and Theology." (Expand your bloggygon but checking out her thoughts here!) The class takes a look at how the two interact with one another, and more specifically how Jesus makes his way into our television shows, movies, and music. Last night, we took a look at potential Christ-figures in movies. For blog's sake, we will define these characters as those who seem to have some resemblance to Christ, his works, and/or his words.

Personally, I am more interested in the latter part of the title than the former. Not because I'm a holy-roller or anything like that but because, when it comes to culture, I'm, how should I say this, a dolt. I listen to country music and watch very few movies partly because I don't like spending money but mostly because I can't sit still for three hours. And beyond Grey's A, I watch very little televisions besides sports.

So I'm in way over my head in this class; the examples I brought up referenced "Gettysburg" and "Lion King." Sigh. Tasha showed clips from three movies, "Lord of the Rings," "Braveheart," and "The Green Mile," which arguably had Christ figures in them. I had only seen one of these three. Due to the rabid nature of movie buffs (particularly fans of a couple of these movies) and concern for my self-esteem, I won't reveal which I have seen - and more importantly which I haven't.

Desipte my cinematic indifference, I found myself really moved during the clips from "The Green Mile." For those of you who haven't seen it, one of the main characters possesses the ability to cure the sick by touching them and bearing their illnesses upon himself, thereby healing them. Herein lies one of his Christ-like attributes.

A truth that I have known for so long but have forgotten so often hit me with a new reality watching this film. Jesus bore my illness, my disease, my evil upon the cross; by his wounds, I am healed. I'm not magically healed. It took work, pain, and suffering. I'm healed because he took the ugliness in my life and bore the horrific consequences of it.

I watched this Christ-like character pull a bladder infection from Tom Hanks's character, then collapse on the bed, exhausted by his efforts. I thought of Jesus bearing just one of my sins on the cross and wondered how painful that was for him, how much he suffered for it. Then I thought of all my sins of yesterday and what that must've done to him. And all the ones of my life which must've drained him. And all the ones of the five of us in that room. And not only our sins but also for the sins of the entire world.

I knew this fact, that Christ came to save sinners of which I am foremost, but culture reminded me last night that this is not a philosophical or academic concept. Rather the wages of sin are death - real, excruciating, tortured death. I was reminded that, though I can memorize the Bible verse, I will never understand the magnitude of the statement and of Christ's passion. They are simply too revolutionary, too humbling, too horrific.

And too loving. For greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.


Anonymous said...

Good word, Ben. I watched Green Mile for the first time recently and was shocked by John Coffey's (like the drink, 'cept not spelled the same) Christ-like healing. Not bad for a Stephen King book, eh?

Don't worry about not having seen the other great movies...they are all over 3 hours long, so it can be tough to muster that sort of energy. I've done it, but I'll never watch those three again. Great movies, but 3 hours? The only thing I ever want to do for more than 2 hours at a time is sleep.

Ben said...

Agreed, three hours is entirely too long to sit still. Even football games which last 3-3.5 hours provide commercials and halftime for potty breaks, snack runs, and plyometrics.