I don’t remember the first 3D movie I saw. It may have been Avatar with its floating and iridescent “Seeds of the Sacred Tree.” It may have been another film; memory fails.
I do remember the last 3D movie I saw: Captain America: Winter Soldier. It was, in a couple of words, great fun (in a “you’re an adult you should have outgrown it by now” Marvel Comics kind of way). Swashbuckling of the 21st Century sort, complete with high flight action and down to earth yet over-the-top, nobody could do that, 3D hand-to-hand combat. An elevator car as a mixed martial arts arena, who knew? And, yes, I still have my specially branded Captain America 3D glasses.
I have also seen movies in 2D that had corresponding 3D releases and I can distinctly recall saying to myself, “This must be way better in 3D.” You can, if you’re carefully observant, spot scenes in a 2D movie where 3D can make the difference between “ho hum” and “wow!”
In order to see a 3D movie, you have to wear the glasses. You have to put on the device intended to make the movie come alive; otherwise you get blurred and indistinct action. You miss the depth, movement, life, and reach. You miss the movements behind the movements. You miss intricacy in the life layering. You miss what the creator of the film intends; you just miss.
This is Maundy Thursday–from the Latin “mandatum”–a command to remember. The day in the Christian calendar set aside to honor Jesus’ words by remembering His last celebration of the Passover meal until He returns to gather His people–His Kingdom people–and take them home to be with Him.
The week for Jesus and His disciples had been a whirl: Exuberant response to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, tossed money tables and wisdom-drenched teaching in the Temple. Then on to this day which would turn so quickly from the intimacy of Paschal dinner to arrest, “mockery” trials, conviction, and rejection by a frenzied crowd (whirled into its death chants by “leaders” clinging to positional prerogative). Whips, scourging, thorns, nails, a cross, death–hideous death.
Everybody missed what Jesus was up to that week. Certainly the disciples reveled in the early acclamation. But this? Death?
They were living 2D lives in God’s 3D world. They had not “put on” the device intended to make them see the 3D depth and distinctiveness of this world as Jesus had made it. Sure, they had the Scriptures, but in a 2D way, they had only seen what they had wanted to see: a Savior who would powerfully show the Romans to the exit and make way for a new era of Israelite glory. They missed the death, the man of sorrows who takes up our infirmities; they had missed; they couldn’t see properly.
Then Jesus clears their vision with His loved-fueled, 3D move. He compels them to see every dimension of the Scriptures’ teaching about Him and His mission by acting it out–there on a hill, in that 3D, blood dripping down a cross way. God loves us; he reaches to us in our 2D limitations and draws Himself to us with this repulsive, redemptive act: He dies for us.
We must need “put on” Christ now (Romans 13:14). If we have any chance of seeing things in ourselves or things in this world the way they were intended to be seen, we must embrace this horrific act–this cross–this death–this life given that we might live. We must know Him in order to see life as it is designed to be: “life to the full.”
To be sure, even if we put on Christ and get our 3D glasses, they will inevitably be smudged and scratched by our profligacy in sin. Even in our 3D glasses fit for this world, we see “dimly” a “poor reflection” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
But think of the wonder of this: living a life seeing as God intends for us to see. Seeing ourselves as much loved creations of the King of the Universe. Seeing our daily need for empowerment by the very Spirit of Christ to make our way in this world. Seeing our capacity to invite our friends and acquaintances to shed the blurry vagueness of the 2D life and trade it for the vibrancy of the 3D life.
Wouldn’t you rather be done with bumping and blundering in 2D fashion? Wouldn’t you rather live a 3D life?
© All rights reserved. Scripture from the NIV, Zondervan.