By Caleb Bobrycki
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox
In our previous review of Dawn of Planet of the Apes, we saw that Caesar, and every other great leader, can be admired as reflections of our perfectly independent leader, Jesus Christ. In a general sense, insecure leaders always attempt to become great, even if at the cost of other’s lives. Jesus cannot become any greater than he already is. This fact ensures others' safety. Christ will protect, even if at the cost of his own life. Insecure leaders take lives to gain; Jesus gives his own life for others’ gain. In the spirit of the latest adaptation to the Apes franchise coming out this weekend (War for the Planet of the Apes), let's take another look at Dawn. For this second discussion, let’s observe how Caesar and Christ are different: our Lord is not, like the good ape, thwarted by the tribe's disobedience.
Saving the Sheep from Themselves
We see Caesar as faithful and just beautifully throughout the film. Caesar was faithful, and he shows us a leader and a friend that will never leave the side of those who are in need. For some time, Caesar kept his family, his tribe, and the humans quite safe and at peace; this leader will make wise decisions. There came times, then, when his justice led him to rid the bad apes from the tribe. Caesar would not simply sweep crimes under the rug; the just leader, punished the criminals, lest he be assisting crime. In the end of the film, Koba, the ape, attempts to kill Caesar and take his throne. Caesar then, ensuring the others’ safety, justly kills Koba. This is good news! And yet: if Christ is a better Caesar, then how often are we worse Kobas?
Jesus can, in ways Caesar cannot, save and change criminal sheep. Our Lord is both just and faithful to criminal sheep. Caesar can only do a sort of balancing act with justice and faithfulness, but he cannot “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) in the same Jesus can. Christ brings justice and faithfulness together at the cross, by suffering our punishment for us. At the cross, Jesus justly paid the hellish debt that rebellious sheep owed, faithfully securing their heavenly inheritance. God upheld his Law and the consequences for breaking it, while also demonstrating integrity in his promise of safety toward Abraham’s believing offspring. Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection fulfilled both God’s Law and his promise to the church, proving that he is a just judge and faithful friend.
Good men might die for good men, but the best men dies for criminals. Caesar, the ape, shows a leader that dies for a good person, but God shows his love in that “while we were yet [Koba, the ape], Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Oh, how my soul loves knowing that when the wolf is coming, Jesus will not run way... even when I am the wolf.