Ben Hur: Beautiful Gospel Under-current

From an ebook:

The timing of this story (made into an epic motion picture) coincides with the earth walk of Jesus. Jerusalem is an unpleasant outpost of the Roman Empire. The inhabitants dream of their promised Messiah.

An old man drifts in and out of the story line. It is inferred that he was one of the Wise Men who visited the Christ child. In later years he is searching for the young man Messiah.

A freak accident places the aristocratic family of Judah Ben Hur in disfavour with the Roman occupiers. His one-time boyhood friend holds the fate of the family in his hands. The decision: Judah to be sent to the coast and slave galleys; his Mother and Sister to be sent to prison and ultimately the leper colony.

A slave’s march takes weary prisoners past a Carpenter’s Shop. The Carpenter takes pity on the chained men and offers drink, Judah Ben Hur included. The Sergeant with whip is incensed and struts over to teach this intruder a lesson. But then there is eye contact. The soldier freezes, stunned and embarrassed. He cannot mete out the disciplne as he gazes upon the face of that Carpenter. The march continues and our hero looks backward, refreshed and renewed, and most thankful for that Man of Mercy.

Providence is kind to our protagonist. In a tragic battle at sea Ben Hur’s ship sinks and he is able to rescue the Captain from drowning. A friendship ensues. Glorious return to Rome. Adoption of “Number 41” by a thankful new father, and more opportunity than could have been imagined.

But the Jew longs for Jerusalem and Home.

In his return trip he meets a fascinating rascal of an Arab horseman, bound for the competition of Pontius Pilate’s Circus. The events of the chariot race have been described in an earlier posting.

Ben Hur’s family estate lies in ruins, but an old household steward and his beautiful daughter Esther have stayed on. Esther provides the love interest. Over the years she has sought out and supported the imprisoned Mother and Sister. She has also frequented the public gatherings of the Carpenter from Galilee. She is fascinated by his ethic and has pledged herself as a follower. But Judah will have none of this. He sees himself now as a spearhead of Jewish patriotism and retribution.

That is…until the Passion Week of the Christ. The Via Dolorosa. The unimagined cruelty of men, Jewish and Gentile. That kind Carpenter with water in that slave’s interlude of long ago! Here! Now the victim of the worst of Religion and Politics. Judah bursts through the jeering crowd with water. Again eye contact. And then Golgotha. A Cross. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Our hero’s family and beloved share with him in this experience. And they watch Kindness submit and die.

Judah’s hatred is broken by the images. Mercy. Promise. Forgiveness. Peace. Lessons in an instant.

And what of the leprous family members? Speaking kind words of the Carpenter. Standing out cold and wet in the terrifying mid-day darkness, rainstorm and earthquake. Blood and water mingling at the foot of a Rugged Cross and flowing everywhere. (1 John 5: 7, 8). Healed of their affliction by Divine Act! (1 Peter 2: 23, 24).

All has been restored.

Watch this, Friends.

marvelous film of 1959


6 thoughts on “Ben Hur: Beautiful Gospel Under-current

  1. The year of my birth 1959, I am being very sincere when I say that I have understood this movie more in your synapsis than the many interrupted viewings of it have allowed. Pieces come together, You are truly a blessing well disguised! Then comes the breaking of the bread!

  2. This is wonderful AG and truly it is His Doing. The post is the final entry in an ebook that I have just now finished with All my adult life I have felt the impact of one great chapter in film. This one. And apparently it has been tugging at hearts for as long as you have! 1959. That’s neat!

  3. There came a time not so long ago when I realized I had to “Trust in Faith.” You see I thought I had some kind of learning disability, so I shut down from reading literature and my Bible because I could not retain nor comprehend. I had an encounter with Mercy and Grace that could not be denied and so I began to share again after fourteen years of not doing so. Many times I did not understand what I was sharing, but others, seemed to. So I learned to take it all in, embrace what I could not understand and trust that if it be God’s Will one day I would but I knew now that it is not required of me/us to understand but to do…in Faith and to Trust in Him.

  4. You told me recently that you were re-reading Luke and Acts. Powerful stuff. Speaks to the thief at Jesus’ side.. Places women on their rightful pinnacle. Tells of the Prodigal and of the Good Samaritan. Confirms that Judas “sat in” on the Last Supper and Communion. Takes us to the Road to Emmaus. Heightens thirst for Pentecost and for evangelism. Disciplines us in viewing the sufferings/over-comings of Paul. Gives us the unforgettable revelation of Acts 26: 12-19.

  5. With me, such has been the case that all is forgettable, but some things are driven to the fore exactly when needed and not before. Not all that floats to the surface is good. Sometimes the best flavors come from scraping the bottom of the pot where all the seasonings though unseen are concentrated and have settled.

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