When young Henry throws himself off a rowing boat with rocks tied to his ankles, this looks like the end. But it’s not. He has thrown himself into the deep in order to find a lost ship called The Dutchman, and the lost figure of his father, who is trapped down there by an old curse.
Years pass and Henry goes looking for Jack sparrow, as he has been told that he is the only one who can help him free his father from the clutches of a watery grave. But when he meets the jolly swashbuckler, he’s not quite what he imagined. He doesn’t look like a dashing hero at all.
And so another piratical adventure unfolds, and Jack and Henry end up battling a ghost ship full of disintegrating baddies as they do their best to break the curse holding Henry’s father.
History is littered with unlikely heroes. Folks who found themselves drawn into situations where they felt overwhelmed, yet discovered that they could make a difference. Paul Rusesabagina never imagined he might save 1268 Rwandans when the 1994 genocide exploded across his country, yet he did just that, when he opened the doors of the hotel he managed to the families suddenly living under a death sentence. Very recently I heard an interview with the owner of a coffee shop in Manchester who opened her doors to the emergency services that were involved in helping out the day after the bombing there; she chose to give away free drinks and bacon sandwiches to encourage them on. Bob Geldof was an ex-punk with a grumpy attitude, the last person anyone expected to round up a roomful of pop stars and set the ball rolling for Band Aid and Live Aid.
Jesus was an unlikely hero. He came from a small, disregarded place, a humble, relatively poor background, and he had no official training. Yet he embarked on a three-year mission that would ultimately affect the entire planet. When folks met him they were often shocked and surprised by the things he said and did. They never expected it from a guy who looked as he did, and they frequently wondered aloud how someone like him was able to do these things. The religious leaders did their best to dismiss him, but not the ordinary folk, they saw hope in his eyes and freedom in his actions. Ultimately Jesus would hurl himself into the depths of death, not in order the end it all, but as a sacrificial way of starting something new. A mission to set people free from an ancient curse.
The Bible constantly reminds us that Jesus has broken the power of the curse of wrongdoing and evil in the world, ‘…he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace.’ Isaiah chapter 53 verse 5 reminds us. But many of us still struggle to ‘feel’ forgiven. The work is done though, as we look to Jesus, who became all that was wrong and cursed about this world when he was put to death on a Roman cross. The writers of the Bible help us with various images and pictures – I love one in Psalm 124, verse 7 – ‘We have been set free, like a bird from a hunter’s trap.’ A vivid image of someone bringing release when we thought all was lost.