The Source of all Great Stories!

Posted on February 20, 2013 by


Hollywood Sign

Image courtesy of Grant porbital/

Two movies nominated for Oscars this year are pictures of the Gospel- Argo and Les Miserables.  It reminded me that all great stories are a reflection of the greatest story of all- the story of what God did for us in Jesus that we could not do for ourselves.  I’m no movie reviewer, but in their own way both movies show us the truth of the Gospel seen in two things- substitution and grace.

In Argo a team of US extraction agents led by Tony Mendez of the CIA disguise themselves as movie producers filming a science fiction movie (‘Argo’) go behind enemy lines in Iran to rescue 6 US citizens who escaped from the US embassy in Tehran when it was taken over in by a mob of Iranian protesters.  They disguised themselves and risked their lives to rescue others.  That is substitution.

Les Miserables features the act of grace extended by a priest to Jean Valjean who is graciously housed by the priest after serving 17 years in prison, but returns the favor by stealing much of the church’s silver.  Valjean is caught and in an act of mercy and grace, Myriel the priest tells the police that the silver was a gift.  This grace ultimately transforms Valjean into a man who cares for and rescues the daughter of a prostitute that he failed to extend the same mercy to.

Grace and Substitution are key elements of the Gospel, but there are so many more!  We will focus on these two here.

Grace- In Peanuts parlance, mercy is what is given to Charlie Brown, grace is what is given to Lucy!  Grace is God giving us not what we deserve, but what we certainly do not deserve.  In Campaigners we teach grace by its acronym- God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  Galatians says we those who are ‘in Christ’ are no longer slaves, but sons and heirs according to the promise.  As the father said to the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, ‘All I have is yours!’  Did the older brother deserve the father’s riches?  Certainly not, he refused to celebrate with his father at the return of the younger brother.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians that we are blessed ‘in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ’!  There is nothing that you lack.  The Father has given you everything you need to love and serve Him in the world.  Why?  Later in that passage in Ephesians 1 Paul tells us; ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.’  God’s grace is amazing indeed.

Tim Keller tweeted today about grace: ‘The more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you’.  We understand God’s grace to us when we repent and ask Him to forgive us our sins.  Are you electrified by God’s grace?  Ask Him to search your heart for the ways you have wandered away from Him and confess those sins to Him and you will see how amazing His grace is toward you.

Substitution- What makes the Gospel absolutely unique is the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement.  Jesus Christ died in our place so that we could live in Him.  Paul tells of this substitution in Romans 5‘You see, just at the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Christ the perfect Son of God, died for sinners like you and me.  It is the greatest story of all time!  It changed human history.  What else would explain why people wear crosses as jewelry, and put them on steeples and dot the roadways with a symbol of death?  The Cross shows us a God willing to give His Son what we deserve so that we could receive what He deserves!

That is so amazing and profound that every great story reflects it.  Think about the movies and books that move you and cause your spirit to soar.  Chances are that the Gospel is reflected in them!  I would recommend that you see both movies, and be grateful that you are the recipient of God’s grace and substitution if you are ‘in Christ.’