In INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, Indy has to trust and obey his father in order to find the Holy Grail – a religious artifact said to give eternal life to anyone who drinks from it. We’ll discuss these themes and much more on this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.
For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction
- 00:03:50 – Movie Discussion
- 00:21:16 – Christian Themes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- 01:16:40 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
- 01:29:30 – Well-mannered Frivolity
- 01:41:16 – Lightning Round
- 01:43:17 – Upcoming
The Last Crusade to Trust and Obey
In the previous films of the franchise, Indiana Jones can be likened to a newly converted Christian just beginning to understand God’s will (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) as well as a believer trying to do the right thing (Raiders of the Lost Ark). And in this third film, we see that transformation come around full circle through the relationship with his father Dr. Henry Jones.
Dr. Henry Jones has dedicated forty years of his life to finding the Holy Grail – an icon rumored to give eternal life to anyone who drinks from it – and he has compiled all of his research into a singular, leather-bound diary that he keeps on his person at all times. But when the Nazis kidnap him to get the diary, he wisens up and sends the diary as far away from him as possible – to his estranged son Indiana.
After all, Indiana hasn’t seen his father since he left home. He feels that his dad valued the lives of men who lived a thousand years ago more than he valued the life of his own son. Even throughout the film, whenever Indy does something courageous, he often looks to his father for an approval that he’ll never receive. It’s an example of the “deeper things” that sets apart this film from the other two of the original trilogy; whereas Raiders and Temple kept everything superficial with loads of action sequences, Last Crusade highlights the family drama of the Joneses and thusly elevates the plot to a new dimension.
This film, then, really isn’t as much about the discovering of the Holy Grail as it is about the reconciliation between Indiana Jones and his father. Where Dr. Henry seeks the Grail, Indiana seeks that blessed relationship. When Dr. Henry’s diary is stolen, Indiana sees an opportunity to reclaim it for the father whom he loves. And when Dr. Henry’s life is jeopardized, Indiana has the chance to save him from certain death. He can’t do all that, however, unless he trusts in his father and obeys his instructions in that diary.
The relationship between Indiana and Dr. Henry is a rocky one, to be sure. When the two finally get a moment to catch up while on the zeppelin, however, Indy finds that he has little to talk about. What finally endears Indy to his father is the missional mindset: “We have work to do,” his father says. Their unifying objective then becomes to stop the Nazis from getting to the Holy Grail first. From there, the race is on, and the father and son once estranged from each other are now coalesced into one singular, driving force. And all the while, Indiana is still being perfected in this relationship.
Once Indy and his father arrive at the Canyon of the Crescent Moon to find the Nazis already trying solve the mystery of how to enter the cave without literally losing their heads, Indy is able to succeed where at least a few guards have failed because he trusts his father and obeys the instructions written in the diary.
Because he trusts his father’s instructions, Indy knows that a “penitent man” kneels before God, so he isn’t beheaded. He knows that the Latinized form of the Jewish name for God begins with an I instead of a J, and he is, therefore, able to cross the floor without falling completely through. And he trusts his father enough to step out from the lion’s mouth when it seems like there is no visible solid ground. Because Indy trusts his father, he can obey him.
Just as Indy can complete his father’s work when he trusts and obeys him, so did Jesus complete His Father’s work by trusting and obeying Him. And just like that, so can we do our heavenly Father’s work by trusting and obeying Him and the instructions we have written out for us not only in the Bibles that we read and study but also in the example set by Jesus Himself.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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