Maria was a young Jewish woman who had to flee for her life to America when the Nazi’s invaded her homeland of Austria. Decades later, she had not forgotten the past, nor had she forgotten her rightful inheritance, her priceless possessions that had been stolen from her family during WW2 and never returned. She found a young lawyer to defend and pursue her case (a Klimt painting of her aunt, in particular, called Woman in Gold), taking on the Austrian government itself. Randy, the lawyer, himself of Jewish heritage, quickly became as passionate (if not more so) than she was about their case, risking everything he owned to pursue the rightful return of Maria’s painting.
It’s an amazing story. Even better, it’s a true story. But perhaps best of all, it’s a story that parallels the Gospel!
That may be a surprising statement. It wasn’t a correlation that immediately jumped out at me, either. We often hear about Jesus as the Good Shepherd or the Great Physician…but we don’t often hear him compared to a lawyer. In fact, most of our cultural references to lawyers are less than flattering, the negative punchline of a joke, perhaps. So it’s not surprising that they aren’t our first metaphor for Jesus, but the Bible says that Jesus is our advocate and God is our judge. Why do we need an advocate—our sins are paid for? Because we have an enemy who is also called the accuser. So, there you have it, we have a courtroom drama playing out in the heavenlies… with Satan as prosecutor, Jesus as our defense attorney and God as the judge.
The comparison doesn’t stop there, however. At one time, when God created the earth, we were His. When sin entered the world, however, things changed. The world entered in the first “world war”—a literal world war in which everyone on earth was involved, bar none. Satan invaded and took from God all of His prized possessions. Whereas Maria’s treasures were held captive by governing agencies and legal red tape, God’s were held captive by sin—and the legal “red tape” surrounding sin was that God couldn’t be tainted by sin. Maria had to take on the Austrian government; God had to take on sin and death. So, God got His best (and only) advocate to take on the case. He recruited Jesus to defend His right to His treasures, His people.
Jesus took the case, and, like Randy, He got so involved He risked everything He had for it. It became personal to Him. He may have been fighting to get back what belonged to the Father, but somehow, it was personal, too. So personal, he gave His very life for it…and in so doing, He won. He defeated sin and death and through His victory, mankind was able to be reunited with its Creator.
The best stories, I’m convinced, are the ones that most closely parallel the Christian story in some way—for how can anyone write a story better than God, Himself? Woman in Gold is essentially a two-hour snapshot of the Bible, from start to finish, told metaphorically through a true, historical event.
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever thought about Jesus as your advocate, your defense attorney, defending you? How does that make you feel? Is there any area of your life where you feel accused and need a good defender?
- Why do you think Randy sacrificed (or at least risked) so much to get Maria’s painting back, even after she was ready to give up?
- If you make the parallel that Randy fought to get Maria’s possession back to her, kind of like Jesus fought to get God’s prized possessions back to Him, then how does that make you feel? Have you ever realized how much God really treasures you, and how much He longs to call you His own?
- If “Woman in Gold is essentially a two-hour snapshot of the Bible, from start to finish, told metaphorically through a true, historical event,” then how does that change your perspective of the Bible? Does it help you understand the overarching story of the Bible in any way?