Lent is about identity. What we choose and what we sacrifice says a lot about who we really are. So, who are you?
Finding Nemo has a rebellious son and a scared, but loving, father.
It also has Dory.
Dory is easily a fan favorite. She is funny, she is sweet, and she is sympathetic. We just like her. But she is also a pretty good picture of the Holy Spirit.
ButItellyouthe truth, it isto youradvantagethatIam going away. ForifI donotgo away, the Advocate willnotcometoyou, butifI go, I will sendhimtoyou. (John 16:7)
This translation uses the word Advocate, yours may say Helper or even Counselor.
In Greek, the work is παράκλητος or Paraclete in English. A Paraclete is someone who “comes alongside.” Think someone who comes alongside of you to help you, hence the translator that chose Helper.
This idea – this visual – fits nicely with what Jesus says in Matthew 11.
Cometome, allyou who are wearyandburdened, and Iwill giveyourest. Take myyokeonyouandlearnfromme, becauseI amgentleandhumblein heart, andyou will findrestfor yoursouls. Formyyokeis easy to bear, andmyloadisnot hard to carry.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Notice that those in the yoke are side-by-side. They come alongside each other to make the load or burden less.
One does not carry the load. They do it together.
Marlin did not have to find Nemo on his own. He, too, had a Paraclete. He had someone come alongside him to help him Marlin had Dory.
Sure, she is comic relief, but she is also very much Marlin’s helper.
It is because of her that he ultimately find Nemo.
Dory is Marlin’s Helper. Dory is Marlin’s Paraclete.
Lent is about death. Sometimes it is the ultimate sacrifice and a literal death, like in Frozen. Sometimes it is the death of pride, a dream, ego, or ambition.
This was true for Marlin.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambitionorvanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treatone anotheras more importantthan yourself. Eachof you should be concernednotonlyabout your own interests, butabout the interests of othersas well.(Philippians 2:3-4)
Marlin wanted to keep Nemo and himself safe. But when Nemo literally got caught in disobedience, Marlin let his own wants and ambitions die.
Marlin left the safety of the reef – his home – to go find his son.
Marlin thought more of his son’s needs than his own.
What about you?
Do you need to let some dream, ambition, desire, or want die?
Lent is about sacrifice. It is a time for us to contemplate and to consider what Jesus did for us. These last few weeks we’ve looked at Philippians 2 through the eyes of Spider-man 2, Wreck-it Ralph, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Frozen. This week we are looking at Philippians through Finding Nemo.
Marlin feels safe in his community. But because Nemo got caught, Marlin sacrifices his own ambition – to stay safe in his community – to go find his son.
Marlin left something – and somewhere – to save Nemo.
So did Jesus.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambitionorvanity, each of you should, in humility,be moved to treatone anotheras more importantthan yourself. Eachof you should be concernednotonlyabout your own interests, butabout the interests of othersas well.You should havethe sameattitudetowardone anotherthat ChristJesushad whothough he existedinthe formof Goddid notregardequalitywith God as something to begrasped, butemptiedhimself by takingon the formof a slave,bylooking likeother men,andby sharinginhuman nature.He humbledhimself, by becomingobedientto the pointof death – even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:3-8)
Jesus left heaven. He left the Father. He emptied himself and humbled himself to save us.
Just like Nemo’s dad, Marlin. He left his home to go find his lost son.
Just like the woman who searched for her lost coin, just like the shepherd that searched for his lost sheep, and just like the father looking for his son, Jesus was born the Son of Man to save us.
Today, remember that Jesus sacrificed himself to save you.
In Finding Nemo, Nemo and his dad, Marlin, want two very different things. Marlin wants to protect Nemo (his wife, Nemo’s mom, was attacked and killed) and Nemo wants to spread his fins and have an adventure.
Finding Nemo fits nicely with Jesus’ “Lost” parables in Luke 15. After all, the title isFinding Nemo.
As we’ve seen with the other movies – which all retell Philippians 2 – we all make choices all the time.
Marlin made a choice to protect his son, Nemo. When Nemo’s mom was attacked and killed, Marlin purposed to protect his son.
Nemo, however, didn’t like what he thought was “over-protecting” and chose to disobey his dad.
It is this disobedience that leads to Nemo getting lost.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
Nemo was quite literally entangled by his sin.
Nemo is captured by the diver because he broke his father’s rules.
Nemo went too far – crossed the line – and was captured.
While we all make choices, some of us (like Nemo) do not make good ones.
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.
Thenthe manand his wifeheardthe soundof the LordGodmovingaboutin the orchardat the breezytimeof the day, and they hidfrom the LordGodamongthe treesof the orchard. But the LordGodcalledtothe manand saidto him, “Whereare you?”The man replied,“I heardyou movingaboutin the orchard, and I was afraid becauseI was naked, so Ihid.” (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.
Butyour sinfulacts have alienatedyou from your God;your sinshave caused him to rejectyou and not listento your prayers. Isaiah 59:2
Because of our sins we are separated from God. Me. You. Your parents. Your kids. Everyone.
forallhave sinnedandfall shortof the gloryof 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.
ButGoddemonstrateshis ownloveforus, in thatwhilewewere stillsinners, Christdiedforus. (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.”
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.
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.”
Kids love a good story. And you know what? They should!
Even God likes stories.
When God chose to reveal Himself to us in the Bible He did it with story. A huge chunk of the Bible is story (narrative). Jesus also loved story. Specifically, Jesus often taught and preached with stories, we call them parables. (Hence the name of this site, Reel Parables!) There is something about a good story that we just get. That is why using movies to share God’s story is such a good idea. We love stories and they often teach us about God and His story. So, without further ado, here are the best three movies for sharing God’s story with younger kids.
Frozen tells us the gospel story. And is a great way to share that good news with kids!
Also, this past Lent we looked at Disney’s Frozen in the context of being emptied and humbled (Philippians 2). We went a bit deeper than usual, but this is a great complimentary read for the parents, teachers, and pastors:
Much like with Frozen, Wreck-it Ralph shows us the gospel story. There is a fallen world with a fake ruler. There is an outside savior (Ralph) who is willing to sacrifice himself to save Sugar Rush. There is the restoration – the resurrection – of the world (of Sugar Rush), specifically with Vanellope, who ends up being a Princess – the daughter of the REAL king. Just like those of us who are Christians, we’ve been adopted into God’s family and are fellow heirs with Christ!