Steven Spielberg, J. J. Abrams and The Sermon on the Mount

I recently read an article about J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg and their collaboration on the new movie Super 8.  It made me think of one of the greatest cliff hanger scenes in the history of television.  It came near the end of the first episode of Abrams’ series LOST.  Regardless of how you think the series went from here or how it ended, this scene had to grab you:

A group of survivors are walking through the forest.  They hear and see a monster racing toward them in the tall grass.  They stand frozen like deer in headlights.  Suddenly shots ring out and the monster drops dead at their feet.  They look around and find Sawyer with a pistol held at arm’s length, a pistol they didn’t know he had.  They look back at the beast.

“It’s a polar bear,”

“What’s a polar bear doing on a tropical island?”

Charley’s eyes shift apprehensively to and fro.

“Guys, where are we?”

Where would you be when the next episode of LOST comes on?

Last week I wrote something about the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes.  I was not satisfied with it.  I think it needed the Abrams touch.  It needed to be dramatized.

What if Steven Spielberg or J. J. Abrams did a remake of The Greatest Story Ever Told?

He stumbled alone, eyes fixed on the ground.  His hair and beard were shaggy and unkempt.  His robe was more a collection of filthy rags than a legitimate garment.  This was his backstory:

He was born into poverty.  Bad choices and a confluence of circumstances striped him of what little inheritance he had.  His wife and children lived in abject poverty.  He rarely saw anything of them.  What little resources came his way were quickly lost gambling in a desperate attempt at gaining some financial foothold.  He drank at every opportunity so he was never completely sober.  Sometimes he would wake in a strange bed with a woman he did not know, not knowing how or when he got there.

This day he wandered into a gathering of some kind.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of people sat on a hillside.  In the distance was one man, obviously the center of attention, seated on a flat rock.  Nearby he could see the Scribes and Pharisees in their gleaming white robes.  They held their writing tools in their hands, ready to take down the words of the one seated on the rock.

He longed to be like them, the Scribes and Pharisees.  He longed to be educated, scholarly, knowledgeable, well thought of, holy, righteous.  But that bird had flown never to return.  He sat down to see what would happen.

The one who was at the center spoke:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

His head snapped up.  What did he say?

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

The words went straight to his heart and lodged there.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

He rose slowly to his feet, eyes fixed on the speaker.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

He did hunger to be righteous, oh how he did hunger.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

He felt like the speaker was standing face to face with him, speaking to him and him alone.  And every time the man said ‘for they shall’ it sounded to him like ‘for you shall’.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

He stood there for all of it, knowing every word was for him.  At the end he was the same man with the same shaggy beard and ragged clothes.  None of the circumstances of his life had changed.  Except for one thing.  He had hope.  Where he didn’t have it before now he had hope.

He turned to the woman next to him who was gathering her things to leave.  “Who is he?”

“His name is Jesus.  He’s from Nazareth.  Some say he’s the Messiah.”

Copyright © 2011 by Angus B. Lewis
All rights reserved

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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One Response to Steven Spielberg, J. J. Abrams and The Sermon on the Mount

  1. manoahswife says:

    “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

    “Knowing every word was for him”–the Life that is in those Words is the “hope that sustains the weary.” Needed this reminder today. Thanks!

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