DJesus Unchained

The D is silent. The repercussions won’t be.

In the movie Django Unchained Christoph Waltz plays King Schultz, a bounty hunter who trades flesh for cash. He brings in bad guys dead or alive and claims the reward. There is much bantering and bloodletting. King is a funny guy and he brings wit and humour to an otherwise deadly business. When he finds the slave Django he frees him in order to get him to identify a gang he is tracking down. And there the story begins.

Slavery is all over Django. The second half of the movie is driven by the quest to free Django’s wife from the Candyland Estate. She is in the clutches of the ingratiating yet evil Calvin Candie, and his manipulative longtime servant Stephen. Schulz and Django hatch a plan. They will turn the tables on Candie and set her free.

In the Bible another king pitches up talking of freedom and bounty. He is also witty and humorous and he brings lightness and hope to many a dark situation. Plenty of people need freeing and he’s come to do the job. Unlike Schulz though he doesn’t bear a gun and inflict violence and death on others. Instead he submits himself to that death and violence. A mysterious solution. And having done that he returns against all the odds – impervious now to nails and bullets.

There is a tendency I think to over-spiritualise the freedom bought by the death and resurrection of the king from Galilee. When Schulz sets Django free it doesn’t mean change in another world, another realm. It means change now. Django dresses differently, learns new skills, changes his name (Django Freeman) and squares up to a whole new future which includes setting others free too.

The freedom ushered in by the new age of resurrection is not just something for another realm, a spiritual world. All of life was/is spiritual to Jesus. Walking in his shadow leaves me wrestling with the possible changes on offer. Everything from how I dress and joke, to how I treat others, how I see myself, and the small ways that I make my presence felt on this planet.

Bob Dylan once said that a hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with their freedom. Not sure I can cope with being a hero. I’d rather just sit in the audience and comment on the exploits of others really. But the experiences of life keep pulling the chair from under me. Which is difficult and frustrating at times. Following Jesus can take us down some long and winding roads. I sometimes feel I’m running a marathon I didn’t train for, I want to give up. Good job the king from Galilee has trodden this way before me, many times.

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