Even though these types of connections can be trite, as I watched braveheart for the 700th time today (rough estimate), I was struck with the many connections between William Wallace and Christ. This is particularly evident to me in the mini-redemption of Robert the Bruce. Robert the Bruce starts out a slave to others, mainly his father. This is in stark contrast to William Wallace, who because of his commitment to a principle (freedom), is a slave to no one.
Ultimately Wallace's commitment to a principle, a principle that also committed him to a people (the Scottish), cost him his life. He never backed down from suffering, but willingly accepted his death on behalf of his cause. Yet in his death he was victorious. I think two things impact Robert the Bruce about the suffering and death of Wallace: 1. That he himself betrayed a great man in Wallace 2. That Wallace loved a principle and a people enough to die for them. Robert the Bruce knew that wasn't him. He realized he was rather a selfish man, only after his own crown. But in Wallace he saw the emptiness of such a hope and was empowered to die to his selfish desires, that he might truly live. His heart was captivated by what Wallace did on behalf of his people, so Robert the Bruce was changed in such a way that he now wanted to live, and possibly die, for freedom. He wanted to be like Wallace.
Now don't get me wrong here, I don't think we get a full blown gospel parallel in Braveheart. Even Chronicles of Narnia couldn't deliver that. But I think there are some definite parallels. To name a few:
- Wallace suffered and died for a principle and a people. Jesus suffered and died for God's glory (Jn. 12:27-33, 17:5) and for the redemption of all who would trust Him (Heb. 10:14).
- Wallace suffered and died to set the Scottish free from British oppression. Jesus suffered and died to set us free from our slavery to sin under the law (Gal. 3:10-13, 5:1).
- Robert the Bruce realized he betrayed a great man. The centurion present at Jesus' crucifixion realized that they crucified the Son of God (Mark. 15:39)
- Wallace was victorious in death. Jesus was victorious in death (Col. 2:14-15)
- Robert the Bruce is drawn to Wallace because Wallace was willing to die for his cause and people. Jesus drew people to himself when He was crucified (Jn. 12:32)
- Wallace did not resist his punishment once he was caught. Jesus likewise did not answer back to those who sought to kill Him, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23)
- Wallace finally dies on a cross, before which he yells out "FREEDOM!" Jesus also died on a cross, and in a similar fashion yelled a victorious "IT IS FINISHED!" (Jn. 19:30)
- The result of Wallace's death is that Robert the Bruce is now committed to his cause and wants to be like him (freedom). The result of Jesus' death is that His people are now committed to His cause (God's glory) and want to be like Him (Titus 2:14, Phil. 2:12-13, 1 Cor. 10:31).
- In order to follow Wallace, Robert the Bruce had to deny himself (his desire for the crown, glory from men, etc.). Jesus similarly calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him (Luke 9:23)
- The result of Robert the Bruce's change and allegiance to Wallace is his joy (as is so clear in the final scene when he leads the Scots in battle). The result of allegiance to Christ is fullness of joy (Jn. 15:11, 17:13, Ps. 16:11)
Nonethless, the gospel is much better than Braveheart. Wallace himself wasn't perfect (having sex with another man's wife, albeit a poor excuse for a man, is still sinful). Wallace never makes provision for the guilt of his own sin or Robert the Bruce's for that matter. He also dies permanently, so he can't rule anymore. Therefore the freedom he purchases is temporary, and the kingdom he leads is temporary as well. But Christ was sinless (Heb. 4:15), bore the curse our sin incurred (Gal. 3:13), and rose again (1 Cor. 15:3-4). He therefore purchased us eternal freedom (Heb. 4:9-11, Gal. 5:1) in an eternal kingdom (Isa. 9:7, Eph. 2:6, Rev. 21-22) if we place our trust in Him alone. And in Him there is truly fullness of joy.