Suffering and Glory in MAZE RUNNER | FCC 56

On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we take the elevator up to the Glade as we look for Christian themes in The Maze Runner. Can Thomas’s vision of life beyond the Maze save his brothers from the sting of death? All that and more in 3, 2, 1!

For your convenience you will find each segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction, Updates and Discussion on Current Movies
  • 00:35:00The Maze Runner Discussion
  • 01:22:45 – Listener Feedback
  • 01:39:50 – Reel News
  • 01:47:55 – Lightning Round
  • 01:52:10 – Listener Challenge and Upcoming

Not-So-Doubting Thomas or, O Griever, Where Is Your Sting?

Life in the Glade is pretty hard. There exists a type of social structure, but the main arbiter of law is the fear of death. Unfortunately, death is inescapable anywhere and anyway. Within the Glade is death because these boys are only surviving and are living without vision (Proverbs 29:18). Within the Maze also is death because the Grievers have a reputation for not letting anyone get out alive if trapped inside before sundown.

Enter Thomas, a young man who does have a “vision” of what life is like on the outside (granted, it’s technically a memory, but no spoilers), and he is convinced that life is better beyond the Glade. The visions (memories) that he has drive him to act upon achieving the kind of peace of mind that can only be attained once they solve the Maze.

He firmly believes, however, that the only way to that better life is through the Maze that is full of death. He believes and is sure of something that he can’t yet fully understand but can indeed hope for (Hebrews 11:1), and he solidly confirms that he would rather risk his life in the Maze than let it hopelessly fizzle out in the Glade. And after some good rallying maneuvers, he forms a team of runners and non-runners alike, and the lot of them traverse the Maze in the film’s climax.

This image from THE MAZE RUNNER shows a Griever about to attack.

Thomas’s character could then be understood and compared to a believer engaging a group of non-believers. The former has a vision (a promise, really) of a future glory and thus a reason to live whereas the non-believers may not (which turns into nihilism, and that’s no fun at all). Furthermore, when Thomas acknowledges the fact that the team will not be able to enjoy whatever lies beyond the Maze until they suffer through, it perfectly aligns with Paul’s sentiment regarding present suffering for future glory:

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (Romans 8:17-18)

But Thomas’s character could be understood more deeply; yes, Thomas can be understood as a Christ-figure. Firstly because Thomas was somehow involved in the creation of the Glade and the Maze just as the Word was with God and the Word was God. Secondly, just as God divested himself of his full radiance by taking on flesh, Thomas took on a type of new skin when he arrived in the Glade with no solid recollection of how he got there. Most importantly, though, because Thomas survived the certain sting of death in the Maze – but really, he defeated death by killing the Griever – he can be compared to Jesus defeating death on the cross and coming out alive.

This image from THE MAZE RUNNER shows Thomas pointing to the Maze.

So, when Thomas is ready to lead his followers through present suffering to future glory, we can also hear Jesus’s own words to his disciples in the Upper Room regarding the matter:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome (read “conquered” in some translations) the world.” (John 16:33)

Either way, the Christian is bound to a life of suffering if he or she wants to enjoy the presence of God after the veil of this world is lifted. Until then, we’re either spinning our wheels in the Glade or working out our salvation with fear and trembling from within the Maze.

Reel News

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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

    Great show! My family really enjoyed The Maze Runner as well- it goes to show that you can have a YA post-apocalyptic story without wedging in a romance.

    Regarding Simon Pegg’s comments on nerd culture and it’s tendency towards arrested development, I have a few things to say. First. I think that one need only look around to see that prolonged adolescence is a much wider issue than just nerd culture. And as a Westerner, I think much of it stems from our high standard of living and comfort compared with much of the rest of the world. There are surely countless causes and effects that could be pointed to, and if you look around the net, I’m sure you can find them. But I think the simple answer to the issue is Jesus. Pegg does a great job, like so many other social commentators, of asking the right questions and noticing problems and issues that need to be addressed. However, they most often do not get the answer right, and I think it’s because they preclude it by their worldview. Simply put, when people put into practice what can be learned from the life and teachings of Jesus, it works- every time. Placing others above yourself, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, submission to our Creator- these are just a few quite mature themes. However, there is an underlying thread of accountability that people find repulsive, they want to do what they want to do without consequence. Therefore, the Christian worldview is often rejected. It’s not that nerd culture is simplistic and infantile, you guys show on a regular basis that there are deep, universal, and meaningful themes going on in all sorts of genre based films. The question is the right one, but I think the answer is unpalatable to most, so it doesn’t even get serious consideration.

    Related to this is Captain America’s popularity and why I think he may have supplanted Iron Man as the preeminent Marvel hero. The antihero is no longer novel, but has become the mainstay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of 24, Justified, and Sherlock- all featuring very flawed protagonists. You can look at the Bible and see many antiheroes used by God to work out His plans as well. But now that more traditional heroes are the exception rather than the rule, Captain America seems fresh and unfamiliar to a certain extent. Cap is a protagonist who does not routinely lie or manipulate to achieve his goals, constantly using the ends to justify his means. He has tragedy in his past and issues of his own- but they do not define his essential character, they inform it in a way that he responds to healthily. There’s no anguish, angst, trauma, or self doubt that repeatedly bogs him down, he’s a hero with his act together, committed to doing the right thing. Crazy idea, huh? Sorry so long winded!

    Love the show! #muhweeladgimli

  • Philip Heard

    Oh yeah, if you haven’t done so- see if your local public libraries have digital audio books that you can borrow and download with your account for free. I’m always checking with one of my local libraries before getting something on Audible. They use Overdrive software, and it’s an outstanding service!

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