It was 1992. I was 16. I had a girlfriend and a car. The movie that boyfriends with cars took girlfriends to in 1992 was Far and Away. I’m not defending the choice, I’m just stating the facts.
If you’ve seen the film (and all of you have) you might remember the big moment at the end when Joseph Donnelly (Tom Cruise) died. At that moment, I was angry and shocked. How could he be dead?!! I mean, I’m glad that it took a gunfight, a severe head wound and a horse rolling over him to do it; but the fact remained that the hero I’d been following for 6 hours and 12 minutes was unavoidably deceased.
Or, was he?
Since I’m not ruining this for anyone who hasn’t seen it and will then enjoy it upon doing so, he miraculously resurrects. That’s right. He comes back to life. Because that’s what happens to heroes like that, son. They come back to freaking life. It took me and the rest of the capacity crowd 8 minutes to start breathing again. I counted.
Far and Away now lives in a larger category of epic films wherein someone dies and somehow gets back to us: The Princess Bride, one of the Pirates of the Carribbean‘s and, clearly, Alien: Resurrection.
When the movie came out on VHS months later, I bought it (I’m really laying it all out here). I raced home, plugged it in the VCR and watched it all…over…again. But by the time it got to the big ending, I wasn’t feeling it. I knew what was coming. I knew it was a couple of minutes, then all is well. But I wanted it to mean something. I wanted it to be a big deal that hero dies. It just wasn’t.
I’m a pastor. It’s Holy Week. You know where I’m headed.
Every year, we have a chance to replay the final hours of Jesus’ life on earth. On Good Friday, we will be commemorating His death on the Cross. It’s a funeral. But most of us have read the book. We know it’s tragic, but we also know it’s temporary. We know Jesus rises again.
We’re in the final hours of preparation for Ecclesia‘s Good Friday service and it’s tempting to try to manipulate that first shock again. I want to tell everyone to be there so that the light of Easter will seem that much brighter. “You won’t fully appreciate Easter without Good Friday.” I could say.
But this year, I’m going to let the Crucifixion stand on its own. I don’t need it to be a plot point. It’s not a setup. It’s a miracle. It’s not merely the grandest gesture of love (which it is), but it’s the repulsiveness of my depravity displayed for the disgusting mess it is. And that is precisely what was crucified—my ugliness. That is what Jesus did on the Cross. He took my guilt and killed it. The Cross is it’s own wonder.
Dwell in the day the power of sin was taken to the grave, sinner. Then, let’s celebrate the day the grave lost its grip on us.
If you’re in Los Angeles this weekend, join Ecclesia for Good Friday at 7:30PM and Easter Sunday, 9:30AM or 11:15AM.
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