14 Jun 2000

Armageddon, the movie, that is

Submitted by theshovel
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There is a scene in the movie, Armageddon that causes me to choke up every time I even THINK about it (there are actually quite a few, but that's beside the point). The setting - intensified by incredible special effects - creates the stage upon which this small bit of dialog has probably affected every one who has watched it.

The story. A large Texas-sized asteroid is speeding toward earth at 22,000 miles an hour. Harry Stamper and his crew of deep-sea oil drillers have been sent along with a NASA crew of astronauts to land on the asteroid, drill a hole to a depth of 800 feet, put an atomic bomb down the hole, get off, and then blow it up (hopefully to keep it from hitting earth).

At the Houston control center everything appears to be falling apart. One of the shuttles has crash-landed, the equipment is broken from drilling through a metal plate, time is running out, communication has failed, and the president is about to decide on remote detonating the bomb, while the crew is still on it, in a last ditch effort to save the planet. You might call it the worst possible scenario ... I think they would have.

Now, how does a movie director take his audience past the special effects and pull them into the story? In this case, a character enters the scene who is the most vulnerable and stands to lose no matter how it turns out: Gracie Stamper. For not only is her daddy up on that God-forsaken asteroid, her fiance was on the shuttle that crash-landed. When the NASA director sees her he speaks tenderly, "Maybe you shouldn't be here right now". Her response comes across in total despair, "I don't have anywhere else to go."

To be thrust into the worst possible scenario and to have nowhere else to go! Can you relate? I can't say that I've experienced a situation in my own life that came anywhere near close to the tragedy portrayed in this movie, but you couldn't have convinced me of that when I was going through my own despair.

Allow me to turn your attention to another scene. In John 6 we have been given an account of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 from a boy's lunch box. How easily I missed what was really going on by focusing on the sensational setting. I don't mean to downplay the miracle of the feeding, but it was ONLY the setting - it wasn't what the story was about! They came for food, and they spent an incredible amount of energy doing so. But the real food was not found in the fish and the bread, it was found in the one who did the miracle. He was the bread of life.

Now, I have heard this story explained as if Jesus created an opportunity to speak to the crowd. It sounded plausible to me ... and to an awful lot of others who have designed large functions to draw people in. But upon closer examination it just doesn't add up. If he meant to win them over why did he do everything possible to drive them away? Are you willing to take another look at this familiar story?

The setting. A huge crowd has followed Jesus out into a desolate area (the closest McDonald's is miles away). The chosen few (the twelve) are growing alarmed by the minute as it is getting late and they are getting very tired and hungry. Many people have already approached them privately and have begun to whine and complain, sounding very much like children asking, Are we there yet? I'm hungry! The pressure finally prompts them to confront Jesus about it. What does he do? He tells THEM to take care of it. Is this the worst possible scenario? Not yet.

After stumbling and stuttering about, one of them comes up with a clever little object lesson to express the magnitude of the situation that Jesus was obviously overlooking: the boy with 5 small loaves of bread and 2 fish. Desperation? Sarcasm? Maybe. One way or another it wasn't a serious suggestion, but Jesus acted upon it as if it was. So, what do you suppose they were thinking and feeling as they went among the crowd telling them to sit down? Worst possible scenario? No way.

Of course we know that Jesus did the impossible and fed every last one of them. Tragedy had been turned to triumph! The people are now discussing what might happen if they were to make Jesus their king.

Night comes, and while no one is looking Jesus slips off. When his absence comes to the attention of the twelve they panic. He's GONE? How are they going to explain this to the crowd? How would you suppose they might feel at that point? I don't think they were very happy with Jesus at the moment. I think they felt betrayed. After all, they had been following Jesus under the assumption that they were to rule and reign with him. And now, right when things were falling into place he takes off! No, I don't think they were very happy with him at all. Worst possible scenario? Nope.

They decide to make themselves scarce. They get into their boat and head toward the other side. The crowd didn't realize that they were running away. I'll bet they were quietly muttering and cursing under their breath until they got far enough away from shore so as not to alert anyone. And then I imagine all hell broke loose ... and the rage of the sea kicked up as if in response. As their rage turned to fear they see something WALKING by their boat ... and they were terrified! A specter of their own doom, perhaps? Worst possible scenario? It gets worse.

But then they recognize it as being Jesus. And when he gets on board the boat instantly is at the other side. And meanwhile, as the crowd awakes in the morning they can't find Jesus. They know he didn't get into the boat with the twelve, but they figure their best chance to find him is to find his buddies. So, they hire some locals to take them over. What luck for those boat owners, huh? They must have made quite a few trips.

Well, they find Jesus, all right. They ask him when he came across, but he responds by telling them that they came because of the food and not because of the miracle. They become offended when he refers to himself as being the real bread of God that gives life to the world. Had some of our modern-day evangelists been there I'd bet they would have done all they could to relate to the crowd. But Jesus seemed intent on driving the crowd away, for at each juncture where he could have smoothed things over he, instead, addressed them as if to say, You think that's difficult to hear ... how about this one? Maybe you disagree with this perspective, but you can't disagree with the fact that the people began leaving in droves.

We're almost there. You know ... the worst possible scenario.

Have you figured it out yet? Have you realized that this story is not about the feeding of the massive crowd or of their rejection of Jesus? Can you not see that the story has been wrapped around Jesus and these twelve men he had chosen for his own? It's not that the overwhelming majority is not important, but we will miss what it is that IS important by discussing the implications of that which is not being addressed instead of being captured by what IS being addressed.

Everything is falling apart. These twelve men had left their jobs, their homes, their friends, their families, their futures, their comforts, their positions, their securities, to follow Jesus. No doubt they personally knew MANY of those in the crowd. No doubt there must have been some eye contact and some words exchanged between them as they walked away. THEY were being rejected just as surely as Jesus was being rejected. They felt it, but they didn't understand it. The worst possible scenario.

And I am thinking that they were probably on the brink of walking away themselves. Consider the question Jesus asked them,

Will you also go away? John 6:67

Why would he have asked such a thing of them unless there was some truth to it? Maybe they didn't realize he was listening to their discussions. After all, you don't suppose that they quietly watched as everything fell apart and everybody else walked away, do you?

Do you hear the question, and if so, what do you say to such a thing? Does an accurate answer to a tough Bible question have any bearing here? Does it help to try to convince yourself that everything will turn out okay? Will a renewed dedication bring renewed motivation? Will more participation in a group bring you closer to the answer? I think you have been there many times and I think you have said the same thing they said:

Lord, to whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the holy one of God. John 6:69


So, when you are caught in the middle of one of your worst possible scenarios and you are desperately scrambling around looking for that elusive answer ... go watch Armageddon. Listen to yourself choke up when that scene comes up. The answer has been there the whole time.

New Testament: 


theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: Sep-02-03 by RP

I enjoy your words when I find time to read them.

Posted: Sep-02-03 by Becki

Another awesome letter!!
Hugs from one who has known she had nowhere else to go for a long time.

Posted: Sep-02-03 by Bruce

«The answer has been there the whole time.»

Reminds me of the old song we used to sing...

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