So as I considered how this message might relate to us today, I couldn't help but compare Jesus Christ to Harry Potter. For those of you who know me well, you probably aren't surprised. And for those of you who don't know me as well, I am a huge Harry Potter fan - the kind that would have dressed up and stood in line for hours to receive a book if he thought his wife wouldn't make fun of him for the rest of our lives.
In some Christian circles the Harry Potter books are criticized for using witchcraft and wizardry as its literary device. I can understand why people might fear that these books could create an unhealthy interest in witchcraft, but I think people are attracted to the characters and the plot more than the literary device. In the books magic is neutral – it is how the characters use their magic that determines whether it is used for good or evil. In many ways magic stands for our own power and how we choose to use the power we have been given.
I have also heard people critique Harry's tendency to break the rules, suggesting that it sends the wrong message to children. As for myself, I am looking forward to using these books to demonstrate to my own children how building and sustaining healthy relationships is more important than always following the rules. The books demonstrate that Harry is willing to bear the consequences for breaking the rules for the sake of his friends and the pursuit of truth.
Jesus and Harry both befriend and defend those who others look down on. Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners while Harry befriends mudbloods (someone who is half wizard and half muggle - non-wizard) as well as the likes of Luna Lovegood (an interesting young lady) and Neville Longbottom (an akward young man). Both are willing to endure public disapproval for the sake of their friends.
Rules are often necessary and beneficial, but when they stand in the way of doing good and saving life they should be broken. Harry Potter is constantly breaking curfew for the sake of helping his friends and seeking the truth. Jesus breaks the Sabbath restrictions in order to demonstrate that the Sabbath was made for people and not the other way around. Jesus breaks the Sabbath again in order to heal a man's hand because that is the right thing to do.
Harry is not perfect and is not meant to represent Jesus allegorically, but he is Christ-like in many ways. Harry genuinely cares about people and their well-being. His scar is a constant reminder of the sacrificial love of his parents. In the end of the series Harry is willing to die in order to protect his family, friends, and others. Jesus claims that one's willingness to die for his friends is the ultimate sign of love. In the end that is what Harry Potter is all about - the power of love and its ability to overcome death. And as you all know, sacrificial love is what the good news of God's love is all about. In Harry Potter a phoenix rises from its own ashes - a symbol of ressurection. In scripture we encounter the good news that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in order to reconcile the world to God.