COUNTDOWN TO EASTER:
A NEW LENS FROM FINAL WORDS
by Adalia Fitzgerald
The 7 Last phrases of Jesus on the cross:
What do the principles of the gospel we as believers should live out everyday and the most quotable scenes from your favorite movies have in common?
Both are viewed through lenses.
Whether it be physical eye sight or a camera lens, all the drama and action is visually displayed for us to see, perceive, and ultimately act upon.
As followers of Jesus, we’re called to see the world through the lens of the cross whose outlines are formed by Jesus’s dying breaths on a tree. These final phrases of Jesus are like the epic words from the climactic scenes that leave us in shock, tears, or stitches of laughter, which hold significance in the overall plot line of the film. Just so, Jesus’ seven final phrases on the cross are the plot-shapers of His mission on earth, the same seven lenses by which we live out the scenes of our lives.
1. The Lens of Forgiveness: "That'll do pig. That'll do." Said the farmer in the movie Babe. The same is true for us today. No more perfection. No more striving to be enough. Just as the farmer reassures his helpful pig, Jesus came to take on the wrath we deserved, as the perfect atonement for our sins, he stepped in on our behalf stating “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34. Jesus’ death for our sins assures us his forgiveness is enough to redeem so we can also receive grace and mercy, “that’ll do” to forgive others.
2. The Lens of Salvation: In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Yoda dies but passes on “the ways of the Jedi” and the Force inside himself to the young Luke Skywalker when he whispers, “May the Force be with you.” Just as Yoda’s legacy remains eternal through the Force, Jesus guarantees by believing in Him that “Today you will be with me in paradise” Luke 23:43. While one of the thieves on the cross beside him remains bitter, unable to grasp Jesus’ mission, the thief on Jesus’ opposite side believes in Jesus as the “Son of God,” and is granted access into eternity. The Holy Spirit, just like the Force within Skywalker, dwelt within the believing thief and dwells in all who believe in His name, defeating the dark side of death and live forever in with Jesus in paradise.
3. The Lens of Relationship: In Pixar’s Inside Out, to ensure Joy and the core memories’ safe return to headquarters, Riley’s childhood imaginary friend “Bing Bong” sacrifices his place in Riley’s memory. As he slowly disappears, forgotten, he passes on the role of his dream to “take her to the moon for me." For Joy to carry out. Similarly, God came to redefine family, to build a new kind of spiritual family, regardless of blood relation. Through God’s reconnection with us, he began to heal and connect us into deeper relationships with others. “Woman behold your son... John behold your mother” John 19:26-27. As intimate members of the church family, He passed on his role as the human connector for us to then fellowship and build a heaven-bound spiritual family.
4. The Lens of Adoption: In the Lion King, the villain Scar overtakes the pridelands after the true king, Mufasa, dies while saving his young son Simba. The cub, convinced he’s to blame for his father’s death, flees to a God-forsaken land where he grows up far from home and fatherless. When Simba comes of age, Mufasa reappears in a vision, empowering the now grown lion to reclaim his rightful place as king. “Remember who you are.” Jesus, like Simba, was abandoned, forsaken and claimed dead to those he loved, crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34. He took on the rejection we deserved so we’d never be left alone. In the end, both Simba and Jesus return to kingship and justly rule over their adopted sons and daughters.
5. The Lens of Fulfillment: “I'll be right here” annunciates the Extra-Terrestrial from E.T., as he places his finger on Elliott’s forehead, a symbol that though he must return to space physically, he’ll always fill a special place in the boy’s memory. Just as Elliott fears the emptiness he’ll feel if he lets ET return home, Jesus takes on that same emptiness. All of us long to be filled, captured in his words “I thirst” John 19:28. Jesus takes on our desires for wholeness to eternally fulfill, “be right here” and quench our thirst.
6. The Lens of Victory: "I’ll be back." Grunts T-800, a cyborg assassin sent back in time to a post-apocalyptic future to kill the future-mother of the savior against machines in Terminator. Likewise Jesus’ statement, “It is finished” John 19:30, assures us that there is hope. As he cancels the written code that condemns our future in hell, dying the death we deserved so we can live in heaven. Knowing the debt is paid and one day Jesus will “be back,” we get to work from victory as more than conquerors! If God is for us, not even Arnold Schwarzenegger can be against us!
7. The Lens of Surrender: As Frodo bids his companions farewell in The Return of the King from the Lord of the Rings he concludes, "I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me… when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.” Jesus saved our lives by surrendering His life with these words: “Father into your hands I commend my spirit” Luke 23:46. Out of the same love He showed us by sacrificing everything, we should daily surrender our finances, relationships, and lives to him to go, tell, and remind others of his sacrifice; and by modeling the gospel to our friends, family, co-workers, city, country, and world.
Let’s put on the lens of the cross, sharing and living out Jesus’ final phrases of forgiveness, salvation, relationship, adoption, fulfillment, victory, and a life of surrender; inviting people into the greatest plot-twist ever: Christ rising from the dead to save our souls… Easter!