Easter shows up everywhere. Movies echo the death and resurrection of Jesus.
I had the idea in 2006. I was driving home from teaching on the gospels when Delirious’ live version of “Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble” shuffled onto my I-Pod.
Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one
Did you feel the people tremble?
Did you hear the singers roar?
When the lost began to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one
And we can see that God you’re moving
A mighty river through the nations
And young and old will turn to Jesus
Fling wide your heavenly gates
Prepare the way of the risen Lord
Open up the doors and let the music play
Let the streets resound with singing
Songs that bring your hope
Songs that bring your joy
Dancers who dance upon injustice
This song, and particularly this performance, had always reminded me of Christ’s resurrection; the moment at which He triumphantly leads the captives out of Hades to stand before the gates of heaven (Psalms 24). Years before, I attempted to write a screenplay with that image and this song as it finale. I eventually shelved the idea, however, in a bit of frustration that such a movie would ever be made.
But as it so happened, that day, I had just finished exploring with my College students the way in which the Shawshank Redemption hinges on an allusion to Christ’s death and resurrection. As I listened to the song, images from a half dozen movies began to flicker in my mind.
I realized that while I may never make a movie about the glories of Christ’s resurrection, that movie has already been made. The wonders of our Lord are proclaimed in film time and again. Surprisingly, though, for many Christians, it’s often in rated R films or movies that never explicitly speak His name.
Our Lord has triumphed not just over the grave, nor simply over those who have chosen to accept him. He has captured the hearts of all mankind. He is the Longing of Man.
This Christ figured, who makes his appearance in so many movies – reminds me of the resurrected Jesus who meets those two disciples in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus. While they walked, Jesus approaches them and asks them why they are downcast. At first they don’t recognize him. And they explain to him how he (Jesus) was crucified and how they’re depressed because they thought he might have been the messiah. But after Jesus explains to them the Bible and how the death of the messiah actually makes sense of the story, they’re eyes are eventually opened. They recognize him and Jesus disappears from their sight and they remark, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
I have that burning feeling often in watching great movies. And I’m surprised again and again by the presence of Jesus in the places I least suspect. When you feel that burning, consider that it just might Jesus who is speaking to you.