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Theme: Affliction, Redemption, The High Cost of Freedom


Schindler's List, Amistad, and Saving Private Ryan are the three movies that share the theme of redemption.  Below is a comparison of these movies:

All three movies are stories of redemption.
All portray an evil enemy (Nazi's in Private Ryan) who has taken over a territory, captured, and enslaved the people (all those behind enemy lines).
All show the enemy as having a mighty fortress where they are firmly entrenched (bunkers).
Redemption of the enslaved is plotted.
There is a list that emerges of those to be redeemed (Private Ryan).
Two work together to accomplish this redemption.  The older, wiser one makes the call (General George C. Marshall).  The younger one goes in to accomplish it. (Captain John Miller).
There is a sacrificial price to be paid (the life of Captain Miller and five others).
At the end, the generational fruit of the redeemed is shown (Private Ryan and his family).

Interesting Note:

In comparing these three movies, it is interesting to note that the number of the redeemed decreases from 1100 to 44 to 1.  At the same time, the picture of "hell" increases dramatically.  Schindler's List is hard to watch.  Amistad is perhaps a little more brutal.  Neither, however, compare to the carnage of Saving Private Ryan.

Comparison with the Gospel:

The Gospel is a story of redemption.  The enemy, Satan, came to earth, captured and enslaved mankind (Genesis 3), and built a mighty fortress.  The Bible describes him as the prince of the world (John 14:30) and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). 

The triune God has plotted redemption.  The names of those to be redeemed have been inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life (Revelation 21:27).  The "elder" (Father) makes the call; the "younger" (Son) goes in to accomplish it.  The price of redemption is the life of the Son (II Corinthians 5:21).  The fruit of the redemption is the children of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14-16).


Private Ryan

His three brothers have been killed in combat and his mother is about to receive all three telegrams on the same day.  This sacrifice moves General Marshall to make the decision to send troops behind enemy lines to find the one remaining son and bring him home.  Captain John Miller and seven enlisted men are selected for this mission.  It is important to note that Ryan is a private, the lowest rank in the Army.  This is not an officer or a V.I.P., but one from the lowest level who is chosen for salvation (Luke 4:18).  Private Ryan's name is brought to the attention of General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. 

The High Cost of Freedom

The movie begins in a battlefield cemetery. The camera focuses on the face of a man visiting one particular grave. Then it shifts to June 6, 1944, and the face of Captain John Miller.  This leads one to believe that the man in the cemetery is Captain Miller when, in fact, it is James Francis Ryan, the private he saved.  In a very real sense, Captain Miller does live on in Private Ryan.  At the end, Ryan says, "Every day of my life I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge." 

Christ lives on in those He has saved by His Spirit (Romans 8:11).  Unlike the movie, one does not "earn this".  It is a free gift (Romans: 6:23, Ephesians 2:8).  However, it is interesting to ponder how one would live his life had he come face to face with the same sacrifice as Private Ryan.

The Mission is the Man

Taking refuge in a church for a couple of hours rest, a conversation develops between Captain Miller and his Sergeant.  In trying to rationalize the men lost (94) under his command, he states that the important thing is the mission.  In losing one of his men, he may have saved two, three, ten, or one hundred others.  The sacrifice must be made for the mission.  To which his Sergeant replies, "This time the mission is the man."  There will be a high price to save Private Ryan.  Six of the eight men who set out to find him will lose their lives.

Ryan is representative of an individual's salvation.  When God made the decision to redeem His lost children, He knew the cost would be the life of His Son (John 17:3-6).  Christ was "the sacrifice on the altar of freedom" (Galatians 1:4, Ephesians 5:2).  He purchased men's freedom with His blood, bringing them out of the domain of darkness (enemy territory) into the Kingdom of the Beloved Son (home) - (Colossians 1:13-14).  God was willing to make the sacrifice for the man, not the mission.  The movie is a powerful illustration of the Parable of the Lost Sheep found in Luke 15: 1-10.

Scripture:  Luke 15

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