In Service of the King (Reign of Christ)

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed Jesus: “Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!” But the other one made him shut up: “Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as this man. We deserve this, but not him he did nothing to deserve this”. Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom”. Jesus said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will be with me in paradise”. (Luke 23: 39 – 43)

In what has now become a cult classic, A Knight’s Tale, a 2001 movie starring Heath Ledger, tells the story of a young 14th century English thatcher’s son who is encouraged by his father to “change his stars” by accepting an apprenticeship to a knight. When the knight suddenly dies, William decides to continue the knight’s course as a champion jouster by forging a new identity, with the help of a struggling writer named Geoffrey Chaucer, and the rest is entertaining faux history.

Much like the real Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the screen tale describes a world that is turned upside down (or “up so doun,” as Chaucer would say): Good and determined peasants are honoured for their noble virtues and selfish and cruel nobles are measured, weighed, and found wanting. A prince shows his humanity and compassion and a churchman shows his arrogance and indifference.

Everything you thought you understood is called into question, and your eyes are opened to a new reality where nobility is not inherited but earned; where goodness is not assumed but demonstrated. That is the upside-down world of Christianity: Everyone is deemed worthy to sit at the table of the king, and the king, in turn, is a servant to us all.

All posts