All of us I’m sure have our own personal favorite Christmas movies, but to me so many of the new movies focus on the trappings of Christmas without dealing with the meaning of Christmas. I loved National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and last years Home for Christmas with Ben Stiller but again they both deal with peoples lives at Christmas not Christmas it self.
Of course we have reminisces of A Christmas story Ralphy’s desire for a Red Rider BB gun a wonderful film about growing up and childhood Christmas memories but what does it say about Christmas?
To me the ultimate Christmas movie is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life the story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls New York. On the surface it’s the story of a selfless man putting the desires of family above his own. Then when disaster strikes being granted the gift of seeing what the world would be like without him and his personal redemption.
In reality it is not about George’s redemption at all it is about our personal redemption. George Bailey was the suffering servant of Bedford Falls a Christ figure he doesn’t require redemption. As a boy George sees old man Gower putting the wrong ingredients in a prescription George goes to his fathers office and steps in between his father and Mr. Potter arguing and George speaks truth to power, George is filled with the spirit of righteousness. After his fathers sudden death George preaches to the board about saving the building and loan and casts out the demons on the board who would side with Potter. By this act like the marriage at Canaan George performs his first miracle and has been anointed as his ministry begins.
But George longs to see the world and to travel yet the subtle message is, he is seeing the world in Bedford falls. George marries Mary Hatch while learning that life is what happens to you while your making other plans. He loves Mary and they begin a family, but George watches while others gain wealth and do all the great things that he longs for. Yet George has only his wife and children just as Christ had only his cloak and staff George’s reward is not to be in material things. When the stock market crashes George performs another miracle and saves the building and loan. With a speech that compares in content to the Sermon on the Mount.
Mister Potter in the character of the devil strives to destroy George and finally decides to try and bribe him. In a scene that compares with Christ’s temptation in the desert Satan offers the Lord dominion over the whole world if he would only abandon the will of his father. Likewise Potter offers George everything he ever wanted in life money travel and wealth if only George will abandon the will of his father.
As George loans money to Violet Biggs the fallen woman of Bedford Falls he parallels the forgiveness of Christ to the woman at the well. Then through no fault of his own he is eight thousand dollars short in his accounts. Potter Satan attempts to use the organs of government to crucify George. George prays alone on a dark snowy bridge as he contemplates suicide as Christ prayed in the garden alone in the garden in the dark both asking is there not some way to take this cup from my hand if it be your will.
Through his guardian angel George is shown the world, as it would be with out him just as Christ looked down into hell and both men saw the value of their ministries. But this is a story of hope and redemption as George is rescued by an outpouring of love by the people of the world. This Christ is rescued and redeemed, this time the people realized all that George the messiah did for them and they rallied to his cause and denied Satan a victory. This time we got it The Messiah need not die for us this time, because WE as a people were redeemed not George. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son. In It’s a Wonderful Life we so loved the Lord we rescued his only begotten son and placed him up upon his throne.