Yesterday, I wrote about how exciting it was going to be to sit down as a family last night and watch one of my favorite movies ever, ET. (Read yesterday's post). I admitted the post was a bit outside the advent box and might not have belonged in this series of blog posts. Today, I'm re-thinking that admission.
I'll start by saying at the end of last night's movie, when the character Elliott says goodbye to ET while ET's people are waiting to take him back home, our Elliott couldn't have been sobbing any harder if ET was taking Katie, Ian and me with him. It was as sad as sad gets. After we settled Elliott into bed, and my own sad-mainly-because-he-was-sad had subsided, I began thinking deeper about the movie than I had after any of the other 2 dozen or so times I had seen it. A sobbing child will do that to you.
As I lay in bed thinking about the experience, I realized the ET story parallels the story of Christ in many ways.
First, when ET was left behind and needed to find a way home, he didn't migrate to the home of a wealthy Wall Street CEO or the powerful town mayor, he ended up hanging out with a little boy who was clearly struggling with a lack of friends and an absent father. He was broken.
When Jesus came to earth, He clung to the broken.
From the moment ET landed on earth, he was pursued by the United States government out of fear he was a threat of some kind.
Since the day Jesus was born, He was perceived to be a threat by many. Enough so that King Herod ordered all babies in the vicinity of Bethlehem to be killed out of fear that one of them would one day grow up to take his throne as King of the Jews.
As Elliott's relationship with ET strengthened throughout the movie, he began to feel the things ET felt and think the things ET thought - to the point their brainwaves became as one.
The bible calls repeatedly for us to become Christ-like, to align all of our thoughts and emotions with Christ.
Near the end of the movie when both Elliott and ET are dying, and when ET does die, Elliott is instantly healed, he has new life.
When Christ came to the earth, he did so knowing full well he would one day die for each of us, so that we might have not only new lives here on earth, but eternal lives one day with Him.
Then, there is the unmistakeable parallel when ET is resurrected from the dead. And in the final scene, the one that had our Elliott sobbing, when ET is preparing to return back home, he puts his finger on Elliott's forehead and gives us one of the great tear jerker lines of all time: "I'll be right here."
Before Christ ascended into heaven after rising from the dead, He told His disciples He would always be right here as well, through the holy spirit that would come live in them after he left, and until he came again.
I found it remarkable at the end of the story how many people were there to witness ET's departure who didn't believe in him throughout the story. Watching on were every one of Elliott's friends and family members who had laughed at him and ridiculed him for his belief in a "goblin". And every one of them were now believers.
When I got up this morning I had to do some research to make sure Stephen Spielberg didn't write the story of ET with the story of Christ in mind. He clearly states he did not, but has said he enjoyed re-watching the movie after hearing about the symbolism people saw in his film. He said it gave him a fresh perspective on it.
Let me conclude by saying I am not comparing ET to Jesus. But like Jesus, I love finding stories that can help teach a lesson, especially if it will help bring hope to a hurting child. After all, isn't that what the story of Christmas is all about.