Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rated V for Violence, and KP for Kinda Preachy

The handsome, friendly Jesus
The Bible miniseries
Okay, I’m going to confess … when I referred earlier to that History Channel miniseries, The Bible, I actually had not yet seen it. From what I gather from what other people at church and on the web were saying, everyone was gathering around a roaring TV every night watching this oeuvre night after night when it aired. The buzz I heard was pretty good, if a bit mocky… like: “Samson had dreads… who knew?”

Or, “Jesus is super hot!” I heard that one a lot. And, to be fair, he really is in this version. Played by Portuguese soap opera star Diogo Morgado, the dude oozes … goodlookingness… if that’s a word. And friendliness and sensitivity… and … I don’t know. I've no problem with that, although as I mentioned earlier (in the above referenced entry,) I prefer Willem Dafoe’s portrayal in The Last Temptation of Christ… since the Bible mentions a couple of times that Jesus was pretty ordinary looking.

The handsome, 
friendly actor 
who played him
Anyway, I finally got The Bible miniseries discs from Netflix to view for myself, and watched them one after the other… An enjoyable ride. There were some inconsistencies, but the spirit and tone of it quite touching.

Now here’s my REAL confession: I watched it WHILE I WAS WORKING ­– just half paying attention to it. ‘Cos, really, that’s how I generally hang… with one ear to the ground and one ear pointed up to heaven. And, to be honest, I probably need one of those deafness trumpets in that ear. I’m not proud of it… I certainly wish I were like Brother Lawrence with his constant practicing of the presence of God. But I, my friend, am no Brother Lawrence.

Our Jesus was fully man.
It was bloody, I tell you!
And the climax of my insensitivity? The story rolls around to the part where Jesus is crucified, and there He is, going through all that horrible stuff… being whipped and hit on the head, stripped and mocked, spit on by his own people. The ones who were probably just a few days ago welcoming Him into the city with palm branches. Then, as the story goes, He was nailed to a wooden cross and hung between two thieves. All bloody and groaning and gross…. A lynching is what it was…

So this all is being played out on the small screen, and I’m sitting there at my desk, sipping on a Diet Coke, doing ads or maybe laying out a magazine, checking out what George Takei is doing on Facebook… And that’s when it dawned on me…

The most stunning thing in human history has taken place, and yes, it was just a show, but I’m using it as a metaphor here. Also, yes, I’m a big fan of the Lord… but mostly, I’m just going about my business like nothing ever happened. Nice. Okay, so I’m closing in on 51 – a Christian for, I don’t know, 20+ years… and while I appreciate the facts and the doctrinal points, it has just now dawned on me what happened and what it meant… or what my tiny mind is able to comprehend of it, anyway.
... and also fully God.

I mean, there was an EARTH QUAKE!!! The sky went COMPLETELY DARK!! Dead people came OUT OF THEIR GRAVES AND WALKED AROUND THE CITY!!! The curtain (a heavy duty tapestry) in the temple that was made to keep us regular joes out was ripped in half!!! Even a Roman soldier, a highly trained military machine, could see that this was no ordinary event… he had just executed THE SON OF GOD!! This is stuff the Bible says will accompany the end of the world. That’s how big it was… this shift in the soul of the world and its people. 

Even this guy knew it was a big deal.
Of course I have read this tale again and again, but it has always seemed a bit like theory or a myth. But that stuff is real, man. (Yeah, I just said “man.”) It’s really real. It’s not a fairy tale, it’s HISTORY… and it’s not just something that happened eons ago, it’s also about US.

I was raised in a Methodist Church. We rarely sang songs like Nothing But the Blood or There is a Fountain Filled with Blood. (We left it to the Baptists to ponder those things.) The cross displayed in our sanctuary was empty, rather than hung with the sculpted body of a bleeding, dying Jesus. Was it just too gruesome for us? Or… a tradition? Or just a way of pointing us toward Jesus’s resurrection instead? Of course I mentioned in this same blog that my personal viewing of The Last Temptation of Christ begged for depiction of the Resurrection. AND as Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins... If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (I Corinthians 15:17-19)

The crucifix my son sees
every Friday
So, yeah, the Resurrection is key – it shows Jesus is the Son of God, right? But the crucifixion… I guess it shows the He was a real flesh-and-blood man suffering a real execution... So he was able to stand in for us and take all the punishment WE deserve. I guess what I’m saying is that since Jesus was both God and man, we ought to weigh both things in our hearts… whereas, my habit is to focus on Easter rather than Good Friday – IF I focus on anything at all! Because… mostly I’m just working and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and emptying the dishwasher and watching Game of Thrones and checking Facebook way too often…

And then the stone rolled.
Anyway, my son goes to Catholic school, and I guess some people think it’s a little too graphic for kids to look at, but it doesn’t bother me that they have a crucifix in the church where they have Mass every Friday. Because this part is big too! And that’s how our Jesus rolled…. Naked, stoned and stabbed... Crucified, dead and buried. And then the stone rolled. Honestly, even though it’s cold, hard fact, it’s still a great story…. Maybe the greatest story ever told…!

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