How a Jules Verne story captivated the heart of a five year old and helped him to acknowledge Christ as the complete revelation of the mysteries about God.
One of the best movies that I ever saw as a child was called “Mysterious Island.” It was a marvelous adaptation of a book that Jules Verne, the great French science fiction writer, wrote. Verne wrote it as a conclusion of his story of Captain Nemo and his submarine the “Nautilus.” Most people remember that cantankerous character from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
In “Mysterious Island,” Nemo sacrifices himself and his submarine to save a motley crew of survivors, who have been marooned on the island, after crashing a military balloon. The island is full of giant monsters and intriguing mysteries. When I saw it for the first time as a five year old, it captivated me completely. It’s one of the few movies that I watch as a re-run on television. It also helps that the special effects were created by Ray Harryhausen, the greatest “stop and go” clay animator in movie history.
Ephesians 1:9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ. Most of us find mysteries attractive. Whether it’s the plot in a whodunit play or a sequence of numbers in Sudoku, we just love the element of surprise and the satisfaction of a completed solution. When Paul writes about “mystery” to the Ephesians, he’s expressing it in spiritual terms because “mystery religions” were predominant throughout the Mediterranean. People were constantly anxious about life and fearful about death. These “mystery religions” of the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Persians promised their adherents and devotees secret messages, signs, and rituals that would expedite their journey to heaven after death. As long as they knew the right words, performed the prescribed ceremonies, and spent their resources at the temple, everlasting life was guaranteed.
But then Christ appeared and, as Paul writes, God made known to us these mysteries through Jesus. The old cultic religions and secret rites were no longer effective or required. All that was necessary for everlasting life was to believe in Jesus. He would guarantee the Way to heaven, the truth about God, and show people the path to eternal life. There was no need to be anxious anymore; there was no need for any other religious beliefs.
Today, we live in anxious times that try the souls of people everywhere. Paul’s message is as relevant now as it ever has been. The mysteries of God are fully made known to us through Jesus Christ. When we accept Him and reject the world, we are given a true and everlasting hope that we can cling to, throughout this life, and into the next.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we have many questions and anxieties, worries and concerns. We experience problems and wrestle with suffering. At times, we can be overwhelmed by fear and perplexed by life itself. During those moments of doubts and worry, grant us faith and assurance. Let us know that our dependence upon You will become our path to eternal life and everlasting love. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.