(This is part 2 of a 3 part series. Parts 1 & 3 are here: How to see God’s Story in Movies Part 1 & How to see God’s Story in Movies Part 3)
This is part 2 of my attempt to answer the most common question I get about Reel Parables, “How do you do it?”
Part 1 was all about seeing a pattern.
- There is a corrupt world, usually with a counterfeit king or ruler.
- There is typically an outside – and dual natured – hero (savior) who is not a part of the corrupt world.
- The Hero will almost always sacrifice something, often his/her life.
- If the hero dies, he/she will often be resurrected or reborn. If the hero does not die, the world is often restored to its former glory. Also, relationships are restored and reunited.
- This resurrection/restoration usually leads to community (restored relationships) and a calling.
In part 2 we will see how this pattern shows itself in a “Lost Parables.”
Jesus and the Lost Parables
In Luke 15 Jesus told three Lost Parables; one about a lost sheep, one about a lost coin, and another about two lost sons.
In each of these stories we get to see what Jesus is like.
The shepherd went looking for one lost sheep, even though he had 99 others. Why? Because that one sheep was important to him. We are that important to Jesus. Jesus loves you the same way.
The woman went looking for one coin, even though she has 9 others. Why? Because that one coin was valuable to her. You are that valuable to Jesus. Jesus loves you the same way.
Finally, a father had two sons. While both wanted the father’s blessing/wealth, neither wanted the father. One got his inheritance early, ran away, and blew it. The other stayed, had access to all the father’s blessings, but ignored it.
Both sons had issues, not just the proverbial “Prodigal Son.” The father loved – and longed for – both sons.
In each of these stories we see Jesus’ character.
- Jesus loves and cares for us the way the shepherd loved and cared for the one lost sheep.
- Jesus finds us valuable in the same way that the woman found the one lost coin valuable.
- Jesus longs to be with – and share His blessing – with us, just like the father wanted to give his blessing on his two sons.
Adam and Eve and the Lost Parable
This story – God looking for what was lost – goes all the way back to the beginning, all the way back to Genesis.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” (Genesis 3:8-10)
Adam and Eve had sinned.
Adam and Eve were ashamed.
Adam and Eve tried to hide from God.
But God went looking for them. Yea, I know God knew where they were. But He was calling out to them, “Where are you?” They were lost and God went out to find them.
You and Me and the Lost Parable
These three lost parables retell our story. Like the sheep, like the coin, and like the children (sons), we too are lost.
But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God;your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers. Isaiah 59:2
Because of our sins we are separated from God. Me. You. Your parents. Your kids. Everyone.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
But just like the shepherd searched for the sheep, just like the old woman searched for the coin, and just like the father was looking out for his son, Jesus chases after us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Yes, while we were still sinners – and therefore lost (separated from God) – Jesus demonstrated His love for us by dying for us.
Jesus died for us while we were sinners.
Jesus died for us while we were still lost.
Jesus died for us while we were separated from God.
Hollywood and the Lost Parable
FYI – Hollywood can’t stop remaking and retelling the Lost Parable.
Nemo is literally “caught up in his sin.” He disobeys his dad, Marlin, and is caught by a diver with a net. How do you know Marlin still loves Nemo, even though he disobeyed? Because he went looking for him!
Finding Nemo is the parable of the lost fish.
The next time you watch Finding Nemo with your kids remind them that they are like Nemo and lost because of their sin. But also remind them that Jesus loves them the way Marlin loved Nemo! And just like Marlin went looking for Nemo, because he loved him, Jesus is looking for them (and died to save them)!
Elsa, ashamed and afraid of her own actions, runs away. She is the lost sister. But Anna, the sister she left behind, loves her and went out looking for her lost sister.
In this story we are Elsa, the lost ones, and Anna is the Christ character. She even died to save Else like Jesus died to save us.
And just like Jesus rose from the dead, so did Anna!
“Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”
Jesus loves us the way Anna loved Else.
The next time you watch Frozen with your kids remind them that they are like Elsa and lost because of their actions. But also remind them that Jesus loves them the way Anna loved Else. Not only did she go out looking for Elsa, but she died to save her. Just like Jesus died for us.
Saving Private Ryan
Not all Hollywood Lost Parables are for kids. Saving Private Ryan is a Lost Parable for adults.
Private Ryan is lost at war and a group of soldiers are sent to find him.
Like Jesus did for us, these men sacrificed their own lives to save Private Ryan.
Yes, Jesus demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, He died for us!
Yes, the Lost Parables are powerful. We get them. We understand them. They move us.
Why? Because the Lost Parable is our story.
Be on the look out for this type of Reel Parable.
- Someone is lost, usually due to their actions (sins).
- Someone, the hero and Christ-figure, will chase them and try to find them.
- This hero will usually sacrifice something to save them, usually their life.
- That sacrifice usually leads to resurrection or restoration or reunion.
You can share God’s story the next time you see this Lost Parable in a movie!
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)
I know this is a lot, so In addition to the worksheets above, I have also combined all three parts into one free e-book, How to Share God’s Story with Movies. This free download will help you share God’s story with your kids and students by showing you how to see God’s story in movies.
Not only will this guarantee that you get the latest Reel Parables posts, but you will also get my most popular downloads, including “How to Time Travel.”
And be sure to check out our new Start Here and About pages!
Until next time, God bless.
Simon L Smith