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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Risen - A New Twist to an Old Tale

    SPOILER ALERT: Don't read this if you plan to see the movie and don't want to know the story line. 

     The new Christian movie "Risen" starring Joseph Fiennes takes an old story and gives it a new twist.  Joseph Fiennes stars as Clavius, a Roman soldier who reports directly to Pontius Pilate and has been kept busy fighting Jewish zealots in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.  Clavius is tired of the fighting and only wishes for a position in Rome, a wife and family, a peaceful place in the country, and a day without death. 

      Through his duties he becomes an eye witness to the crucifixion, watches Jesus being buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and seals the tomb with the stamp of Pilate.  After the body of Jesus disappears from the sealed tomb, Clavius is charged with finding the body of Jesus and presenting it to Pontius Pilate to prove that Jesus has not risen from the dead.  Ceasar will be visiting Jerusalem soon and Pilate wants to head off any unrest that might happen if Jesus' followers think he is miraculously alive again. 

    Clavius begins by interrogating everyone who claims that Jesus is alive, including Bartholemew and Mary Magdelene, but to no avail. No one can lead him to a dead or alive Jesus.  However, he finally discovers where the disciples are hiding.  When he breaks into the upper room he finds the disciples there, with Jesus in the midst of them.  He is dumbstruck. Instead of returning to his soldierly position, he follows the disciples to Galilee, and although he is following out of curiosity and interest, he tells Pilate he is trying to uncover more information.

     When Pilate gets wind of this, he sends the soldiers after them.  Clavius ends up hiding the disciples from the Romans, and joins them in Galilee. Although at first there is some tension, they accept him as part of their group and share bread and wine with him.

     The disciples and Clavius meet up again with the risen Jesus in Galilee.  While fishing with the disciples Clavius witnesses the miracle of the fishes.   He sees Jesus heal a leper, and although he cannot reconcile what is happening, he cannot deny what he sees.  This man who was once dead is alive again.  Lepers are healed. Even though he participated in Jesus' crucifixion, Jesus accepts him and loves him.  Clavius is a changed man.  Although he does not join the disciples as they spread out over the world to preach the gospel, he cannot return to his old ways.

     In a way this story is the story of every Christian, which I consider myself to be as well.  At some point, even if we can't remember when, we were all non-believers.  There was a moment in time when each of us met Jesus face to face.  We had to overcome our fear of being wrong about who He is.  We had to reconcile what our heads told us could not be true, with what our hearts told us to believe.  We may have at first followed Him from afar, but then drew closer as we learned who Jesus really is and how He changes lives.  Although we may have considered ourselves enemies of other Christians at first, we eventually understood them and joined the fellowship.   We left the life that we previously led and made our own way on a new path to a new way of living and thinking.

   "Risen" is the story of Clavius, a Roman soldier, and it's the story of every non-believer's path to the faith.  It's a story that's shared with million throughout the world down through the ages, and a story that will be repeated many more times over until mankind finds a peaceful place and a day without death -  the day that Jesus returns and sets up his Kingdom once again on earth.