Oz the Great and Powerful: God or Man?

Posted: March 8, 2013 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Adventure, Fantasy
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Over the last few years, we have had so many “origin” stories in film that it could be argued that they represent a new genre.  In reality, this is not entirely a new method of movie storytelling (think: Godfather 2, where we learn of Don Corleone’s origin), but it certainly has become much more prolific of late.  My personal favorites are Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class.  X-Men: Wolverine is pretty good too.  Now, if you’ve seen some of these origin movies, they appear to follow a pattern of a tragedy or crisis which changes a “normal” person into something/someone entirely new.  Bruce Wayne becomes Batman after the death of his parents.  A group of outcast mutants overcome personal tragedy to become a band of superheroes.  Oz the Great and Powerful is the current offering of this movie genre, and I bet we’ll see some sort of crisis that changes one normal man into the powerful wizard.

The film’s summary from IMDB confirms my hypothesis:  Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first he thinks he’s hit the jackpot-fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when he meets three witches, Theodora, Evanora, and Glinda, who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity-and even a bit of wizardry-Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man as well.

When I first read this movie’s plot summary, I thought about the story of how the people of Lystra treated the Apostle Paul and Barnabas.  Because of this duo’s miracles and healings, the people thought they were gods come to earth in human form, thereby worshiping them as Zeus and Hermes.  But unlike Oscar Diggs, Paul and Barnabas didn’t attempt to falsely act as wizards and rescue the people.  They refused to be worshiped, and pointed people to Jesus Christ as the only One who could save them from their sins.

But the even better contrasting parallel in this origin film is between Oscar Diggs and Jesus Christ.  Oscar came from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz.  Jesus came from vibrant and perfect Heaven to dusty old earth.  In pride and arrogance, Oscar looked for fame and fortune.  In perfect humility, Jesus came to sacrifice and serve.  Oscar is reluctantly drawn into the epic problems of Oz, while Christ willingly came as the solution to mankind’s problems.  Oscar emerges as the powerful Wizard of Oz through the use of illusion, ingenuity, and even wizardry.  Our Lord emerged as King Jesus because He had REAL power as the Son of God.

In the end, Oz the Great and Powerful is just a story of a mythical man who goes from somewhat of a rascal to a good man–masking himself as an all-powerful wizard.  Do you remember Dorothy’s scolding of the wizard in The Wizard of Oz?  She told Oscar that he was a very bad man for deceiving the people of Oz (as well as herself and her friends).  The wizard’s response is classic: “On no, my dear…I’m a very good man.  I’m just a very bad wizard.”  In other words, Oscar Diggs was a horrible GOD even if he did become a good MAN.

Well, contrary to what many people believe, Jesus was NOT a really good man, or simply a prophet who left us with insightful moral teachings.  And, He was NOT a good man who somehow pretended to be God or even emerged as God later in His life.  He was not God who sort of looked like a human being.  The truth of the matter is that Jesus is the perfect God-Man, fully God and fully Man.  And, as the perfect God-Man, He fulfilled all of the law’s demands, satisfied the righteous wrath of God, and gave His people salvation from sin and a relationship with God.

So enjoy the origin story of the Great and Powerful Oz.  Use it to remind yourself and train your children about the person and work of King Jesus.  Rejoice in the fact that He is the Great and Powerful Lord that delivers us from the need for any mythical wizard.  And, as a bonus, there are no flying monkeys in Christ’s kingdom!


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