Saturday, April 7, 2012

Mindshot: Cool Hand Luke

I'm unaware of the name of today. I'm sure the Catholics have come up with some intriguing, archaic name for it. Today is Saturday. Unlike most Saturdays, today is the Saturday after Good Friday, that one that comes before Resurrection Morn. Some 2000 years ago, our Savior lay dead. All day.

What a strange day. A day without God.

What did that feel like? Imagine Jesus's disciples walked and moved and operated in shock that day. My guess is that the whole world did -- that everything was more or less paused, like on a rainy day in Spring.

Holidays of anticipation strike within me a vibrancy that perhaps the holidays of celebration don't exactly enact. It's hard to celebrate Easter when we still live in a world of groaning. It's hard to worship the Savior's birth in peace when Caesar still rules the Earth. That's why hymns like, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" move me greatly. I feel the tension; the consuming need for relief.

Today, so that our hearts are ready for tomorrow, the day of remembrance of the Great Resurrection, the day the Story changed forever, let's focus on our great need for Him.

Listen here to Sufjan Steven's desperate prayer, Oh God, Where are You Now?: here.

Lukas Jackson, the famed protagonist and namesake of the magnificent Cool Hand Luke, lives in a world where he needs God to save him. Because the film is a film, and not this life, we are left perhaps void of hope. The call for help, the call for a Great Comforter, the call away from loneliness, remains stoically unanswered.

Living in prison, amongst 49 inmates, Luke decides to become his own Savior. He plays this role for the people, and for himself.

The most remembered scene of the film revolves around a brave schoolyardesque bet: can Luke eat fifty eggs in an hour. Can Luke cement his role as prophet and jailhouse priest by performing such a feat; such a miracle?

He does. He eats the fifty eggs just in the nick-of-time. And, as a consequence, his body lay strewn on the table, already showing off his Jesus-like instrument of salvation in the form of his pose.

But Luke is wholly man, devoid of God, devoid of spiritual power.

The pains and evil calculations of the world along with all of its bosses will weigh Luke down, so much so that he will try for escape one, two, three times. He will give his life on the third.
Long after the miracle of the fifty eggs, after Luke is captured after escape a second time, we begin to feel that this story will not end well. We begin to see the signs of fatigue, the palm readings that foreshadow that our hope in Luke may be in vein. Whence Luke is carried into jailhouse for that fateful second time, his jailbird followers surround him. They are excited that their prophet and priest has once more returned. They are eager to place a crown on his head and exult him as their king. He recoils and shouts brazenly.
Stop feeding off me!
The most pivotal scene of the film comes but a few seconds later, wherein the men sit for lunch. One by one Luke's disciples take a spoon of food off of his plate. Luke sits miserable, too destroyed by the world to respond. They scoop and scoop and scoop. Luke had just reprimanded his flock in the previous scene to not look to him for their vicarious freedom from enslavement, now they respond by literally doing the very thing Luke had told them to figuratively stop doing. They've lost faith in him. He wasn't the answer they wanted.
Christ often left the myriads to be alone. He prayed. On the night of his betrayal, he prayed and cried and bled as he spoke to God. He asked for another way. He didn't want to die. Perhaps, in his human body, he felt too frail to take on the batterings of man. He yearned for another way.
Three times during the film we see Mr. Lukas Jackson call upon the Lord. Each time he looks up towards the heavens. Each time he asks,

Where are you now?

Oh God! OH GOD! Now I ask, two thousand years after you saved me from destruction, where are you now? How much longer must we play the game? When does the story end?

We die for you, Lord. Either by will or by fate, we die for you.

Come Lord, end the story. Make the first last and the last first. Make the heavens to descend. Bring the new earth. Bring the fire and the Spirit. Bring peace forevermore. Bring your presence in your fullness. Sit on your throne in Jerusalem.

God! Save the Lukas Jackson's of this world! Save me as you once did. Save me again and again and again. I don't deserve it. I am little.

God! Where are you now?

God! We feed off you, for there is no other.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Prophet, Priest, and King.

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