I don’t recall the first time I heard the term “director’s cut”, but I know that in the last fifteen years it has become a fairly common expression in our culture. As in many other art forms, film making is a process that includes much more than just writing a script, finding actors/actresses, and then recording them playing out the story. Not to mention all of the technical aspects of the process (sound, lights, make up, CGI, etc…) there is a point in which the director has to look at all of the film that has been shot and determine what to remove from the final product. The movie that we wind up watching is not, generally, a sequence of every scene originally captured. So, at some point, studios began to release “director’s cuts” of movies; a version of the film that contains all of the original scenes that the director felt would be needed to adequately tell the story, develop the characters, and elicit the most impact upon the viewer.
Though it is an imperfect analogy, as I read Matthew 22 I got the sense that Jesus was offering, in a way, a “director’s cut” to the religious professionals that were attempting to trap Him with their loaded questions. Jesus took their questions and accusations, many based on traditional interpretations of the Old Testament or the nationalistic pride of “God’s chosen people”, and revealed God’s actual meaning and truth. He didn’t twist or misinterpret anything, He simply explained the truth that had so persistently evaded interpretation. Some of these issues are still problematic for us, in our culture, 2,000 years later.
The final verse in the chapter says much about the power of Jesus’ revelation and the attitude with which we should listen to His words in the Scriptures.
And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:46 ESV)
The mindset of the Pharisees was to trap Jesus, not to learn from Him. I wonder if this happens in our own lives more than we care to admit. Could it be possible that we come to the Scriptures with our agendas and expectations and we are determined to find out that we were right no matter what the Bible says? Do we rush over certain things that we read and perhaps even assume that we don’t understand them not because of their complexity but because of their implications? Are we willing to allow Jesus to offer the “director’s cut” of the truth? The unfiltered, eternal, often-hard-to-swallow reality that God has given us in Scriptures?
Tomorrow I’ll begin with the first parable in Matthew 22, but today I’m asking myself, “will I really listen if I don’t like what it says, and if I don’t prefer what it means I have to do?” I would invite you to ask the same questions. We will make a choice to either allow Jesus to define Christianity for us, or to let culture, or politics, or tradition trim out the scenes of the film that make it harder for us to accept. I wonder what it would look like if we gathered all of the film from the cutting room floor, piled up over the last two millennia, and “watched” that story, determined to follow Jesus completely, regardless of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) pressures we feel to hold fast to the spiritual status quo.
I invite and encourage you read the next few days with an open mind. I will do my best to do the same as I write. I have a desire to see what the Director thought the story should look like originally, if for no other reason than because its HIs story.