I last saw the movie, Meet Joe Black, 11 years ago. I enjoyed the premise of the movie, death, Brad Pitt, coming into human form to experience a little bit of life as experienced through the family of a billionaire William Parrish played by Anthony Hopkins. Death is inspired by Bill Parrishes’ words and deeds. Death strikes a deal with Bill that so long as Bill doesn’t reveal his identity, death will allow him to live a little longer. As death shadows Bill, it is clear that Bill is a deep and profound man. He has money and strength. But above all, he is loved by all those he comes across. The movie is 3 hours long that goes into more complications around Bill’s daughter and her budding relationship with death, bill’s family, and bill’s work. As the movie progresses, Bill comes to accept the inevitability of his death, while death finds it harder to leave the life he is now living. In the end, they both decide to leave the earth and the ones they have come to love as part of life is being able to give the things you love up and give the things you love up because you love them.
Since watching this film, I have experienced much change in my life that allows me to relate to this movie differently. I have gotten married and I have children. While those alone are enough for me to be retrospective, it is actually my relationship with Christ and how I reconcile death that is the most intriguing. You see, at the very end, Bill Parrish is walking off into the great unknown with death. Bill stops and turns to death and asks, “should I be afraid.” Death confidently responds to Bill and says “Not a man like you.” At this point, the audience is supposed to be happy and inspired. As long as you live a life like Bill, you should have nothing to fear at death. What a profound statement one is left with in examining their own afterlife.
If I take Christ out of the equation, I actually find the closing statement sad and frightening. This statement by death means that an individual will be judged based on the measure of their worth as a person by some sort of unknown entity. Judgment means that for those that are judged worthy, they will receive a benefit, while those judged unworthy will receive punishment. Bill is afraid for good reason because apart from Christ, even if he feels worthy, he actually has no idea if he will receive reward or punishment. Bill’s question to Death hits at the heart of God’s perfect plan and how we are all innately created to ask if we are worthy or not.
God loves us so much in that he offers us a path through Christ’s death and resurrection that eliminates the doubt and fear we have in life and death. As a believer in Christ, you have no cause to ask Death if you should be afraid. Bill didn’t say whether he was or was not afraid, he wanted to know if he should be afraid. I might be afraid of death, but my belief in Christ as my foundation tells me that I shouldn’t be. Death told Bill that a man such as himself has no need to be afraid. If another person was behind a bush listening to the exchange, he would be left scratching his head trying to figure out what it is that Bill did right and how could he replicate that. With Christ, I stand before ‘death’ and say that I am a sinner as is plain to see. I say that there are no works enough to make myself worthy to receive the reward. It is only my belief in the works of Christ that set me free. Christ intercedes on my behalf with the Father to say that my sins have been covered by His blood.
I’m sad because so many people go through life apart from Christ asking themselves the same questions Bill did. They are unsure and lonely. It saddens me because the answer they seek is so close at hand and comes at no more cost than belief. But at the same time, I have joy because the work has already been done.