Film Friday: Murder on the Orient Express

When the famous Hercules Poirot boards the famous Orient Express he has no idea what the future holds. He is intending to take a break from his sleuthing life, on his way to spending too much time in art galleries and eating pastries. But things don’t work out that way. It won’t be too long before a body will show up and M. Poirot will once again find himself plunged into the murky world of murder, mystery and too many suspects.

Early in this film Hercules talks about his ability to see when things are not right in the world, and how difficult this is for him, making life a struggle at times. He frequently requests that other people straighten their ties, it confounds him when things are not as they should be. This is what drives him to crack puzzles and solve murders. He cannot help but see through the alibis and cover stories. He is drawn towards things that just don’t add up. For the extraordinary Poirot this will be a difficult case, his neatly defined take on life will be challenged. As he follows the ragged trail of clues his sense of justice will be sorely tested.

When Jesus’s friend John begins writing about his time with the extraordinary man from Galilee he decides to lay a trail of clues. His book is not so much a Whodunit though, more a Who-is-he? John invites us to follow the trail, Poirot like, as he sets a conundrum for us. Who is this man who can morph water into the best wine? (Clue one – John 2) Who is this man who can heal sick people without even meeting them? (Clue two – John 4) John flags these clues up for us, but after that we are on our own, we must spot them for ourselves. Who is this man who talks about working like his heavenly father? (John 5) Who is this man who feels so sorry for 5000 hungry people that he stretches a single packed lunch into a bumper fishy banquet? (John 6) The clues continue, all the way to a criminal’s death and a borrowed grave. Who is this man? One of the ancient Psalms, Psalm 85, tells us –‘Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.’ Righteousness, truth and peace meet together in this man from Galilee; a cross of Roman execution springs up from the earth, and the man pinned to it draws together justice and mercy, truth and love. But this cross is not the end, and righteousness smiles from heaven as a resurrected man steps into the sunlight early one Sunday morning. What does that mean for us? Where does the trail lead? In the words used by Jesus himself, ‘We ask, look and knock on the door.’ And see where that takes us.

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