What Makes A True Savior? – Bill’s Reflection on John Carter

What makes a savior, truly, a savior? And why is it that we gravitate so much to saviors that are quite the opposite of our True Savior?

My kids and I went to see the new movie John Carter. Now, I can almost anticipate what my co-blogger will write here, about the movie not being well acted, the script was scarce at that, and the plot predictable. All of which I would agree with.

Except… Except. This movie is a Savior story at its heart. The book its based on predates Avatar and all the rest of the modern day Savior-Hero movies, but the plot remains the same.

The hero(John Carter in this instance) comes from the outside(Earth) to rescue the poor natives who can’t rescue themselves. He comes with superpowers(in this case the ability to jump HIGH and hit HARD). And he comes to rescue those who can’t do it themselves. To unite the natives under one banner. And to save people with violent force.

In the end he is forced to ascend back to Earth…only to rediscover a way to return and claim his rightful place in Martian society.

Typical savior movie…right?

So why is it so appealing to watch? Why do so many of our stories center around what Christians might call a “false Messiah”, and someone who works out the problems by force?

Maybe its because we really still don’t get what Jesus did for us. Or continues to do for us. Maybe we’re still waiting for Jesus to return, like John Carter does at the end of the film, to rescue us from the world and take us away to some far away planet called “Heaven”. Maybe we really can’t believe that Jesus really did conquer sin, death, and the devil two thousand years ago on a cross, so we’re waiting for him to take up his sword and do it right sometime soon. Maybe that’s why, even we Christians, gravitate toward such stories.

The fact remains, though, that, as hard as they are to watch for some, movies like Avatar and John Carter can provide a means to witness to the true Savior of the world. The one who comes with all the power in the world and lays that power down at the cross. The one who took on death itself to save us and defeat the powers of darkness once and for all. And who will return, not with a sword, but with a new heaven and a new earth!

That’s the story worth telling. And if we need John Carter to help us tell that story…so be it.


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