As you already know, I love children’s animated movies. Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox, the lot.
Of all the Walt Disney Animation pictures, next to Frozen, I like Tangled best. It has a feisty heroine, great humour, and an awesome ending. We watched it for the umpteenth time the other day over a lazy dinner, and I sighed with contentment as dinner was polished off and the movie ended perfectly yet once again.
And if you’re anything like me, the end of a movie well-enjoyed is just the beginning of repeated replays in your mind of favourite scenes for the next 2 days or so. And so it was, that as I was reminiscing fondly the songs and funny dialogues, that I suddenly saw something that I’d never seen before: I saw Jesus in the movie.
Not quite following? Then let me share with you and show you what I saw.
The story opens with a drop of sun coming down from the heavens a long time ago and becoming a magical golden flower that has amazing healing and rejuvenation properties. That speaks of Jesus right there.
A little more than 2,000 years ago He came quietly one night, the Son of God descended from heaven unto earth, with the sole purpose to save, heal and restore.
And the best part? He’s not magical, or fictional, or imbued with any special properties. He is real, He did come, and He is the very embodiment of salvation and healing, of preservation, restoration and renewal not just of physical health and youth, but in every area of life that you can think of, and even in areas that you didn’t realise!
In the movie we see that the power of the magic flower ended up in Rapunzel and her magical and glorious crown of hair, but she was trapped in the tower for a long time, hidden from everyone else except Mother Gothel. Then one day she meets Flynn Rider, the wanted thief.
Flynn was running away from a crime he had committed when he stumbled upon Rapunzel’s tower and he ended up meeting her. In fact, ironically the crown he had stolen from the Palace rightfully belonged to Rapunzel, whom he ran into. His was a life of a fugitive, always running and hiding, even from his own identity, as we later find out.
In many ways we are like Flynn. We grab, manipulate, take things that don’t belong to us, and most of all rob God of His glory by our sins and rejection of Him while we are sinners. We run and hide when we do wrong, sometimes even from ourselves, covering up our real self from the world.
But so often while we are in the midst of running and hiding, God is right there to meet us and we run headlong into His grace. Just like Flynn did, in running into the girl with the magical hair.
And things started to change. Imperceptibly at first, but slowly and surely. He got trust, which he didn’t deserve. He got friendship, love and concern, which he wasn’t looking for. That was grace. And it touched and changed Flynn in a way that he’d never known before, in a way that he didn’t even realise was happening.
So much so that when Flynn/Eugene finally encountered the full power of Rapunzel’s magical hair in all its healing and restorative virtue, he was no longer the same guy. The thief Flynn Rider who would have coveted and conspired to obtain and use a priceless treasure such as this was gone; and in his place stood the man Eugene Fitzherbert, who had encountered and fallen in love with the girl who housed the treasure, who from then on sought to protect what he loved and treasured.
In the same way many of us come to encounter and know about Jesus through friends. These friends are somehow different from our other friends – though we may not hang out with them a lot, they show us a love and concern that is sincere and genuine, and at times bless us with gifts and notes of encouragement that we don’t expect, even though we do nothing in return for them.
From them we begin to learn and taste grace: goodness that we don’t deserve, goodness that we don’t expect.
And for some reason they seem to be happy and upbeat all the time. We sidestep and tiptoe around the topic of Jesus, Christianity, and church, and they never bring it up nor go into it unless asked, happy to just be our pals and love us as we are.
But then one day we ask them about the secret behind their ever-apparent joy, or a personal crisis happens and we start looking for God through these friends, and they tell us about Jesus or bring us to church and we finally see Him in all His grace and glory.
Now we no longer dismiss or disdain Him, as we used to, but we begin to fall in love with Him and value Him as the priceless treasure that He is. Grace changed our heart.
In the end, Eugene/Flynn was willing to sacrifice his own life to save Rapunzel, whom he loved. And Rapunzel, distraught and heartbroken at losing the one thing she knew could save Eugene/Flynn, could do nothing but cry and weep over him.
And then the miracle happened: her tear brought about the same healing and restoration that the magical flower did right at the start. The power that was in the magical flower, that went into her hair, remained in her tears.
When Jesus is in you, you can’t just lose Him, through an act, or a rash decision, or a mistake. Once you receive Him into your life, you have Him forever. That’s grace too. His power and His grace is greater than any act or impulsive decision that we can ever make.
What about Mother Gothel? She represents those who try to keep Jesus and the truth of His grace hidden from the world, or tucked into a tall little inaccessible tower that’s not really talked about in church: people who leave Jesus and His grace out of Sunday messages, and people who make God appear hard or impossible to reach.
But she failed eventually. Because the light and glory of Jesus and His grace cannot be effectively or permanently concealed; it has to – and it will – get out into the world, and back into the church.
And when it does, it will transform lives, totally, radically, and permanently. Just like it did for Eugene/Flynn and Rapunzel.
He got not only his physical life back, but his whole life back, completely turned around for good. She got her position of princess and authority back, her family back, and a blessed relationship and marriage on top of it. It’s healing, restoration, and abundance of blessings in all areas. And that’s what will happen in your life too, when Jesus is revealed.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.