In preparation for Easter, I was reviewed movies and video clips of scenes
that reflect resurrection, from classics like “The Greatest Story Ever Told” to
“Son of God,” from “Freedom Writers” to “Intolerable Cruelty.” I came across
a scene from the film “Amistad,” which tells the story of two slaves who have
been brought to America and cannot read English; they learn the story of
Jesus through illustrations in a Bible.
The illustrations depict Jesus riding on a donkey, healing people, protecting
people, entrusted with children, and walking across the sea. They show
Jesus captured, accused of a crime with hands bound – like theirs. One slave
says, “He must have done something wrong,” and the other slave replies,
“Why? What did we do?” They do not understand what he is accused of, but
they know it is bad. The pictures tell the story that Jesus died on a cross, was
wrapped in a cloth and placed in a grave. – “Like we would have done if we
were home,” observes one slave. Then the image of Jesus, who they thought
was dead, appears to be talking with his friends.
It was the shortest, simplest, and in some ways, the most profound telling of
the story. There were no special effects, no pious speeches, the illustrations
were in black and white, and there was no symphonic fanfare. Yet in their
faces was the clear reflection of suffering and hope, compassion and liberation.
With empathy born of the common realties in which they lived, slaves were
able to walk with Jesus through his love and suffering to a found peace in the
assurance that the cross is not the end.
May this be the joy and freedom of Easter that captures our imaginations and
calls us to abundant living.