So my nurse and i finished watching Ben Hur the other day. I forgot how long it was–good thing we divided it into segments over the course of a few days. I’ve seen Ben Hur so many times before but this time i watched it purposefully, for Lent. The life of Judah Ben Hur is juxtaposed with the life of Christ (who is only seen in glimpses from behind) and gives witness to the fact that God guides all events and experiences, including suffering, to his greater purpose: Ben Hur loses his life involuntarily and yet, at every turn, is kept alive and led by God’s Providence, not for revenge but for Redemption; he ends up at the right place at the right time.
Both Christ and Ben-Hur are innocent men who are betrayed by friends, both took the form of a slave, and both faced Roman torture and utter deprivation. Ironically, Ben-Hur referred to as “the one true God” by Pilate–the guy who condemns the real God to death! How each man reacts to the suffering is telling–Christ loves, Ben Hur hates, Christ forgives, Ben-Hur wants revenge. The vengeance of Christ is Divine Mercy. It is Love that transforms suffering, making it redemptive to the point where the Cross of Calvary can be called victorious!
In forgetting himself and fully cooperating with Divine Providence, Ben Hur ultimately experiences a level of joy that he would have never known had he not suffered. That’s what makes this movie so powerful–that, and the chariot race obviously.