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He Never Said He Wasn't Good

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Dr. Ray Rooney, Jr. Digital Media Editor MORE

I remember the first movie I saw that had a huge plot twist at the end.  It was 1968’s Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston.  You go through the entire movie thinking that the astronaut Taylor (Heston) is on a planet in a distant galaxy until the very last scene when he stumbles upon the remains of the statue of liberty (oops, spoiler alert).  When you consider that Rod Serling co-wrote the screenplay it is not all that surprising.  Endings with a twist were the hallmark of his television series The Twilight Zone.

Other relatively famous movies with twist endings include Psycho, The Usual Suspects, and Citizen Kane.  But there is another movie with a surprise ending that I want to dwell on briefly.  M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.  A young boy named Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is terrified by his ability to see ghosts.  He begins seeing a child psychologist played by actor Bruce Willis.  {Spoiler Alert}  The big reveal at the end of the movie is that the psychologist the troubled young boy has been seeing and talking to throughout the whole movie is actually a ghost himself.  But Shyamalan didn’t just hit the viewer with that ending without quite a few “hidden reveals” throughout the movie.

For instance, Dr. Crowe never physically handles anything in the movie while others are around.  The boy never speaks directly to the psychologist while his mother is present.  There are others, but perhaps the biggest hidden reveal that was prepping the audience for the twist ending is the scene where Cole finally tells his secret to Dr. Crowe (Willis): “I see dead people…walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.”  You don’t recognize the importance of these statements until the end of the movie.  Then you realize the boy was actually signaling to the doctor that he (the doctor) was one of those people the boy was seeing that was dead and didn’t realize it.  Wow.  Hidden reveal.

There is hardly anyone who would deny that today’s Christian church is dealing more and more with the encroachment of apostasy within.  From accepting homosexuality as a God-given blessing to embracing evolution to rejecting the divinity of Jesus Christ.  Let’s take a look at that last one: rejecting the divinity of Jesus.  A lot of so-called scholars suggest that Jesus never claimed divinity.  They say that later Christians foisted their hopes upon the Carpenter from Galilee but that Jesus never said He was God.  That claim is patently ridiculous and false but rather than point out every time Jesus directly claimed His divine origin I’d like to point to only one of the many “hidden reveals” in the gospels.  That is, an occasion where Jesus doesn’t flat out say, “I am God” but the words He speaks lead to no other conclusion.

Mark 10:17-22

The text above relates the story of the wealthy young man who ran to Jesus, knelt before Him, and asked: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Before Jesus tells him what to do He first asks, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”  At first blush that almost sounds like Jesus is flat out denying that He is God.  As a matter of fact, people like Arius in the 4th century and German theologian Adolf von Harnack of the 19th century pointed to that response by Christ as proof that Jesus wasn’t divine.  But clearly, asking the young man why he called Jesus good and pointing out that only God is truly good is not a denial that He is good.  And if you look carefully at what Jesus said after this, it becomes crystal clear that He was prepping the young man to come back to that statement and affirm Jesus’ goodness.

Jesus responds to the question at hand (“what must I do to inherit eternal life”) by pointing to the commandments of God.  So, adhering to and obeying the revealed will of God is the point of beginning when it concerns eternal life.  The young man says “all these I have kept from my youth” but then Jesus stuns him (and anyone who was around who heard Him) by saying “You lack one thing…”  That is a hidden reveal. 

Keeping the Ten Commandments is not enough.  He must liquidate all of his assets and “come, follow me.”  Do you see what Jesus just did?  By referencing the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) “God alone” Jesus was pointing out that the young man’s wealth had become an impediment to "God alone."  By commanding the young man to lay aside that impediment and adding the call to “come, follow me” Jesus was revealing how to live out the Shema and was also equating His command to the Ten Commandments.  Remember, the young man claimed to have been a faithful adherent to the Ten Commandments.  “You lack one thing.”  The command to financially liquidate and follow Jesus is that “one thing.”  Jesus essentially gave the young rich man the eleventh commandment. 

Who can equate following Jesus to keeping the Ten Commandments?  Who dares to add something as a necessary component of receiving eternal life alongside the Ten Commandments?  No one, but God.  The one who gave the Ten Commandments.  For Jesus to tell someone who claimed to faithfully keep the Ten Commandments that he still lacked something that was necessary to inheriting eternal life is as blatant a revelation of a self-awareness of divinity as you can get!  One must “follow me” for there to be any hope of eternal life.  This circles back and provides the answer to the opening comment from Jesus about calling Him “good.”  Now the rich young man knows what he must do to inherit eternal life. Absolute reliance upon God that is worked out in loyalty and obedience to Jesus…who is indeed the one and only “Good Teacher.”

When the young rich man walked away from Jesus because he knew he could never give away all his wealth (it wasn't "God alone"), Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God.” The words Cole spoke to Dr. Crowe could actually pass for a good modern day rendering of those words spoken by Jesus:

“I see dead people…walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.”

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