My family and I have thoroughly enjoyed the Chosen, the world’s first ever multi-season television show about the life of Christ. If you haven’t caught it, look for it on the app or YouTube. You won’t be sorry.
But six years before Chosen, locals, including me, crowded into Yorkton’s Anne Portnuff Theatre to watch the Easter musical, “The Promise,” a theatrical retelling of the life of Christ.
Several times during the five-performance run, the infant girl playing baby Jesus began bellowing during her moments onstage. Unable to settle the babe, Mary passed her wailing bundle to Joseph. The cries ceased. No wonder—the wee one in Mary’s arms knew her father’s calming touch instantly. She was my son-in-law’s fifth child, after all.
When cheering crowds welcomed Christ as miracle worker and political savior, several village children joined them. Skipping and dancing, they jostled for position next to Jesus. Suddenly another girl (granddaughter #1) dashed onstage, thrust herself against Jesus’ side and stuck there, grinning. Later, a mother brought him her crippled son (grandson #1). Hoping. Believing. When Jesus leaned low and touched him, the boy leapt to his feet, throwing himself into his healer’s arms.
I loved watching my family in their roles during that first performance. But when I attended a second time, I hoped to experience the story of my Saviour for what it really is: gospel truth about a man whose story has more historical veracity than that of many notable characters on textbook timelines. A man who, when confronted by an angry mob preparing to stone an adulterous woman, said, “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” And at another time, “‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Also, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
I ached to immerse myself in the true story that changed the world and the God who longs to heal it. To join the disciples in the boat on the raging Sea of Galilee. To listen as Jesus taught in the Temple. To wave palm branches as he rode an unbroken colt into Jerusalem. I felt compelled to stand, horrified, at the cross, knowing he bore the weight of my own sins. I longed to join Mary Magdalene at his tomb, bowing before her resurrected Saviour. Her Lord and Redeemer. Son of God. My Saviour. My Lord and Redeemer too. Sitting in the darkened theatre, tears pouring down my cheeks, I sensed all that.
Oddly, the memory of The Promise, acted by amateurs, moves me more than The Chosen. My real-life relationship with the characters has connected me in indelible ways. Embracing Easter from the heart depends on genuine relationship too; with the main character, Jesus, cruelly crucified, buried, and risen again.
“Come to me, all you who are heavily loaded with burdens. I will give you rest,” he invites. It’s the most important invitation you’ll ever receive. Have you responded?