I love the old classic movies. Hubby Rick and I share that love and often scour the internet for one we haven’t seen yet. Every once in a while we find a gem that isn’t so highly discovered or credited. In many of them there is a blatant moral message that is obvious, such as “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We all know that the whole movie is about George Bailey finding out life really is worth living after all. It is no deep thinking movie, just a sit back and enjoy the story sort of a movie. That’s why we love it, Christmas is too busy and we need to have some no-brainer chill time. So, because Rick and I have seen “It’s a Wonderful Life” at least 317 times, we decided to find something else and settled on the old Gregory Peck movie “Johnny Ringo”.
Johnny Ringo is no great classic movie and had some bad acting and predictable scenes. That would explain why I was multi-tasking with reading and texting at the same time (which by the way, is annoying to a spouse who wants you to enjoy watching a movie with him! Sorry hon, let me know when “Pride and Predjudice” is on!) Anyway, despite the rather boring movie that it was, with the plot being Johnny is the fastest draw in the West trying to escape his notorious reputation, I did observe something that was quite salvageable. Johnny was very misunderstood.
He was such a skilled shooter that many an ego driven male wanted to prove himself by picking a fight with Johnny. Johnny didn’t want an encounter with these fame seeking trouble-makers but that is exactly what they tried to create to get him to draw on them. So, predictably along comes young Eddie who wants nothing more than to prove he can take out a notorious gun-slinger like Johnny. With harassing and taunting not working, he finally whips out his gun and…..you can predict what happens next….Johnny defends himself and Eddie lays dead on the barroom floor. Even though everyone in the room admits that Johnny pulled the trigger in self-defense, he is warned to get out of town fast because Eddie has three older brothers who will not understand why baby brother is dead. Johnny escapes to another town and remains there because of a woman he loves. Word of his presence gets around and soon the talk everywhere is about this Ringo guy who is a murderer. It seems that only one person, the sheriff, who is an old friend of Johnny’s understands who he really is. He is a man who has killed but his motives were never murder but rather self-defense. Oh the perils of being misunderstood. Once Johnny was seen as trouble, it didn’t matter what the truth was, he was tried and convicted in the court of popular consensus based on rumors and hearsay. The real Johnny’s motives were missed and wrongly judged because good men are not gun-slingers.
So, in my mind, the moral of the story here is that motives and intentions can be misunderstood. Often times, even if the truth is clearly spelled out people might not care because they have already made a judgement based on what they need the truth to be to serve their own opinions and bias. This is clearly the case that is seen in a man who was prophesied about over 500 years before His birth.
Jesus Christ was prophecied about in the Old Testament scriptures numerous times. The Jews were told a Messiah would come, a king, a savior to deliver them. Details of his birth that he was to be born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem, he would be called a Nazarene, he would be crucified, all were clearly spelled out ahead of time. Isaiah talks about one who cries out in the wilderness and points readers to John the Baptist’s ministry of preparing the way for Christ. 100% of these prophecies were fulfilled and these mentioned are only a few. Truth stated and proven should not be missed.
But sadly it was. It is exactly what happened to Christ when He arrived. Born a Jew, he was missed by his own people. They expected a king who would exalt their nation in majesty and splendor. He would be clothed in purple, a powerful ruler worthy of fame. They missed the baby, the stable, the virgin birth, the humble upbringing and most importantly that he was God come in human flesh. They needed their king to be something other than who he really was. Let’s face it…..they missed him and by that they missed Christmas.
I have seen it missed, I have experienced it in moments and I see missing Christmas growing in our culture with each passing year. When I go to a program that is all about penguins and snowmen I miss Christmas. When I turn on a radio station and hear nothing but “Silver Bells” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” I miss Christmas. When the prevailing themes are about snow, reindeer and commercialism, I miss Christmas. I don’t mind some of the sentimental secular songs, I like snowmen and Santa, I enjoy family, but when those become the focus and not the Messiah, Emmanuel, Jesus….I miss Christmas. To quote Timothy Keller “until you find your meaning in God, your life will always be winter, never Christmas”. It seems kind of shallow to celebrate winter doesn’t it? If life is the summation of snow, penguins and chestnuts roasting, aren’t we going to come up empty?
So God has provided Christ-mas, “worship of Christ” because He knows we need Christmas and without it we will remain in the cold, dark winter of our lives…..always. He is the God who said “let there be light in the darkness”, the God who said “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is the God who has said “there is no other name under heaven by which men might be saved”. Yes, He has provided Christmas….if we will let go of our ideas and misunderstandings of who He is and what we need Him to be and look at who He really is, we won’t miss it. Not now and not ever.