Theme: The raising of Lazarus
Similar clips: The Green Mile – The Power and the Glory (to be posted soon)
Location of clip: 1 hr 22 mins and 44 secs to 1 hr 26 mins and 43 secs
This is Martin Scorsese’s controversial version of the novel by Nikos Kazantzacis. Twenty years ago you might have been burnt at the stake for watching a scene like this in a film like this! But this is a fantastic clip about the raising of Lazarus, and portrays Jesus in a realistic, down-to-earth way. It’s so hard for us to imagine what Jesus was really like because we’ve had two thousand years of a two-dimensional stained glass saviour. Yet a closer reading of the gospels shows us a man well acquainted with loneliness, surprise, rejection, laughter, partying and conflict. He did not float about above the ground in a celestial nighty. And when he was telling stories and healing people no one knew what was coming next. This clip helps us rediscover some of that shock and humanity.
The professional mourners are wailing near the tomb. Jesus speaks to Mary and Martha then tells to them to roll away the stone. It smells bad, very bad and they all cover their faces. Jesus approaches the tomb. He stands at the door and throws power into the tomb. Then he calls Lazarus out. Nothing happens. He speaks again. Still nothing happens. He kneels and waits. He looks inside. There is nothing but silence. Suddenly a hand juts out from the darkness. The skin is grey and partially decomposed. Jesus takes hold of it and the hand pulls him into the tomb. When Jesus re-emerges Lazarus is with him, wrapped in the grave clothes. Jesus unwraps his face, will that be decomposed too? Lazarus falls on Jesus and clutches him. Jesus prays and clings onto him.
Hindsight is a terrible thing when it comes to the bible. Because we know Jesus is the champion we tell these stories as if everyone knew that at the time. Of course they didn’t. All they knew was that a man had died and his body had started to rot. Jesus comes along and asks them to one the tomb. Why? What on earth can Jesus do now?
They didn’t know he would raise Lazarus. There is tension in the air. This could all end very badly indeed.
On the mount of transfiguration three disciples saw Jesus as he really was, it’s no wonder that Peter offered to set up home there. This was a fantastic experience. Seeing Jesus unmasked in his true glory, chatting with two heroes from centuries past. Where else could they go from here? For all they knew this was the climax of Jesus’ ministry. Why go back down to all those difficult people at the base of the mountain. Surely this was the place to stay. This was the really holy place.
But Jesus urges them back to reality. He’s about to get more involved with real life, not less. And when he comes down off the mountain – what happens? Reality hits him like a runaway train. All these faithless needy people are clamouring for him. They tried to drive out a demon and couldn’t. They want Jesus to do it for them. No wonder Jesus seems in something of a bad mood!
“How long have I got to put up with you lot?” he says.
He’s just been up a mountain with Moses and Elijah, and of course, they didn’t need to have faith, they knew who he was beyond all doubt. Now he’s back with ordinary people, and their faith is small.
Jesus became a real man. Lived through real experiences, with real reactions. Let’s never fool ourselves into thinking he glided about on a celestial skateboard, forever grinning, and wafting his hands here and there, healing people with his fingertips. Jesus loved real life, he got involved with real life. Why else would he have wept over the death of Lazarus? Because he felt the pain that Mary and Martha were feeling, and he didn’t gloss over it. He lived life to the full – and that included moments of genuine pain, pleasure, surprise and shock.
1. Can you think of someone you know who seems to live life to the full?
2. When do you think Jesus knew he was the Son of God?
3. Do you think he found out all at once, or bit by bit?
4. If we can be surprised in life, then surely God can too?
5. Did the clip make you think of anything else?
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