jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

The First Samurai

In the movie ‘The Last Samurai’ the opening scene begins with beautiful auburn-filled panoramic shots of Japan and the narrator telling us that there is a legend about how Japan was formed. This legend says that the gods reached a sword down into the waters and pulled it back up. As the sword ascended back to the heavens four perfect drops fell off the sword and formed Japan. The narrator goes on to explain that he believes Japan was truly formed in a different way, forged in history by ‘warriors of honor.’ From here the movie jumps scenes to a striking contrast, where the protagonist of the story is being introduced at a carnival as a military hero who had received the government’s highest commendation, the medal of honor.

Thus, within the first minute of the movie we are given the heart of the story. We do not know it yet, but it is there. For we come to find out that when we pick up the story our protagonist is a stark contrast to these ‘warriors of honor’ that we will learn more and more about. How? After all he has been given THE medal of honor, yes? True, but he has been given a medal of honor by a dishonorable government who has employed him to carry out dishonorable deeds. So much is this true that we quickly learn that there is almost no honor left in the life he has lived.

The word samurai means ‘to serve.’ The samurai understood his existence to be completely summed up in one task, to live a life of service to the king. He was utterly devoted to this task. This finds expression in the film when the emperor informs the central samurai figure that he is not sure how much longer the samurai’s services will be needed. Without hesitation he responds to the emperor by saying, “If I am of no service I will glady end my life.” A samurai is one who exists for one purpose, to carry out the king’s bidding.

Doesn’t that sound like someone we know? He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34). Yes, Christ was the first samurai. He gave us this example of how we should be living our lives, living to serve the king. This is where our honor will come from, for He also told us that, “…if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26). There is a certain amount of ‘honor’ that can be gained from the approval of men, but in the end even the greatest medals on earth are proven to be no more than empty trinkets. However, to be honored by the one true God in heaven is an honor that will never fade. And if we give our lives to Him for His purposes we will hear him honor us one day before all of creation with these simple words, “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

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This entry was posted on September 27, 2005 by in Uncategorized.
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