Sandra and I are watching three of our grandsons this weekend while our daughter and son-in-law hunt for an apartment in Reno. Since our ward meetings don’t start until 2 pm, we are facing the usual “how do we keep the kids occupied on Sunday?” issue. Right now, they’re wandering around the basement, hunting for dyed eggs and Hershey’s miniatures, but earlier I started “Ben Hur” and have been watching it off and on while working at my laptop.
Back when Sandra and I had lots of kids at home, we had a whole collection of what we termed “Sunday movies” on tape: “Ben Hur”, “The Ten Commandments”, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, “The Story of Ruth”, and so on. These were movies the kids could stick in the VCR and watch on Sunday, either before or after church, depending upon our schedule. We later expanded the list to include some non-biblical films (“Fiddler on the Roof”, etc.), since one can only watch these films so many times.
Well, the VCR and the tapes are all gone, and the only one of these films that I have on DVD is “Ben Hur”. That’s because it’s my favorite of all those films, and the only one that holds up well after half a century or so. I think because the film’s focus is not on the Savior’s life, but on the life of someone who been touched by the Savior, literally and figuratively, without knowing it. The approach of never showing the Savior’s face is very effective.
The scene where Ben Hur, in chains as a slave, is denied water by the Roman slavedriver, only to be given water by Christ, remains one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. It is a reminder that the Savior’s ministry started long before He turned 30 and that the vast majority of the service He rendered fall outside of our records of His ministry in the Gospels.
The Savior’s parable in Matthew 25:31-46 probably gives us the best glimpse into how the Savior spent his life before starting to preach the Gospel, and there were likely many lives touched by Him prior to then. “Ben Hur” is a reminder of that. ..bruce..