In the film MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Lee Chandler (played by Casey Affleck) is asked to take care of his nephew in the same way Jesus asked Peter to “feed his sheep.” Join us as we discuss this Christian theme and so 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 and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:05:32 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:27:57 – Listener Feedback
  • 00:32:02 – Christian Themes in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
  • 00:56:17 – Upcoming

Bearing the Burdens of Grief and Sorrow

Lee Chandler has had a tragic life, and he has a hard time dealing with it all. He lost his children in an unfortunate house fire, an event that has irreparably scarred him. Because of that, his wife left him. Now, his brother Joey has passed away, and he is charged with being the legal guardian of grieving nephew Patrick. It proves to be more than Lee can bear by himself.

But Lee learns something along the way: that he doesn’t have to bear these burdens by himself. When Lee’s brother Joey was alive, Joey helped him bear his burdens of guilt and shame. Now that Joey has passed, Lee has all the more reason to sink down into an unreachable depression. And yet, his family refuses to let him do it.

This image from MANCHESTER BY THE SEA shows Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler

His nephew Patrick, although begrudgingly at first, opens up to him. His wife tearfully and earnestly apologizes for the way she treated him. His friend Georgie even steps up to adopt Patrick so that Lee can work in Quincey and let Patty keep his life in Manchester. It’s a coming together that’s nothing short of how God has called his followers to behave, and we would all do well to follow this example.

Feed My Sheep in Manchester by the Sea

Joey’s love for his brother Lee is as deep as the eponymous sea, and the same can be said of Lee’s love for Patrick. But Joey’s love for Lee extends further than most. Joey is there to help Lee get through his family tragedy. Joey helps his brother get his life back together. He helps him find hope again.

So when Joey dies and entrusts the still-growing Patrick to Lee’s loving care, he doesn’t take the situation lightly. While Lee may have thought that he was supposed to be the “back-up,” Joey has chosen him first. Lee eventually realizes that in order for him to really obey his brother’s will, he has to give up Patrick, but Lee only makes this decision because he has Patrick’s best interest in mind.

This image from MANCHESTER BY THE SEA shows Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler.

It’s reminiscent of Jesus asking Peter to “feed his sheep.” The already resurrected Christ has revealed himself to his followers, and he singles Peter out by asking if he loves him. Peter affirms it a total of three times, and Jesus asks Peter to “feed his sheep” every time. Just as Peter is asked to feed Jesus’s sheep, Lee is asked to care for Patrick, and it’s a beautiful comparison to meditate on.

Key Texts from Manchester by the Sea

Let these passages be your guide as you watch MANCHESTER BY THE SEA with your friends and loved ones.

Galatians 6:2 NLT

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

John 21:15-17 NASB

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

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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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a way to use good stories to soften people's hearts.
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, this was right up there with CALVARY as one of the most intense films you’ve covered. You guys did a great job pulling Christian themes out of it. One thing that keeps coming to mind for me is Jesus at the cross, telling John to look after his mother. I think there’s a stigma around estate planning, rooted in superstition to some degree. I suspect some people think preparing for our eventual death is somehow inviting it. But a very practical and fundamental part of loving our family is taking steps to see that they are taken care of in the event of our death. So, if you don’t have a will, term life insurance, or guardians designated for your children, perhaps this film is a good motivator to take some of those steps.

    Thanks for the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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