Film Friday: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing and those involved with cracking the unbreakable cypher machine known as Enigma. Lives are being lost day after day as warships and supply ships are being sunk by submarine attacks. The code-breakers at Bletchley have got themselves an Enigma cypher machine, but every day the code changes, and there are 159 million, million possible variations. Each day they only have 18 hours to decipher any intercepted messages before everything changes yet again.

‘Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.’

So says Morcom, Turing’s school friend, when Alan is feeling down about himself. Certainly Alan Turing went on to do something so unimaginably incredible that it most likely shortened a world war and saved millions of lives. Yet at school he was bullied for being strange and different. And when he first arrives at Bletchley he is the only one who believes his machine can crack the code, rather than human minds alone.

Appearances can be deceptive. As was the case with Jesus.

Old Testament prophet Isaiah assures us that ‘There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.’ And this is born out in the stories of Jesus when, time and again, the religious elite are amazed that he can do the things he does. Jesus just doesn’t look like anything special. They couldn’t imagine that this man from Nazareth could really be the divine rescuer that they and the wider world needed.  He described himself as the kind of rock builders would look at and reject, and yet in the end he’d turn out to be the best stone of all. Over the years we have seen Jesus portrayed as a tall, striking, blue eyed hero, and as a non-crying baby with a halo. Or in the case of the series Jesus of Nazareth, a man who doesn’t blink. But this wasn’t the case, he looked very ordinary indeed and didn’t telegraph the fact that he was God’s son. Because of the authorities he had to be very careful about how he communicated his mission, carefully coding his message in his cryptic parables and illustrations.

It was up to those around him to ‘crack his code’ to wrestle with his messages and to decipher who he was and what that meant. And like so many remarkable people, Jesus was lonely. He was often misunderstood and Isaiah describes him as ‘a man of sorrows acquainted with grief.’ Day after day he encountered conflict and antagonism. His was a lonely calling, and he often went off to spend time talking to his heavenly father about it all.

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