Indiana Jones and the Mamertine Prison

No, this is not an anticipated fifth Indiana Jones movie. It’s just what I thought about when I was in Rome.

(I promise the analogy will make sense in the end!)

I traveled to Salerno on a mission trip and we worked hard for a week helping a church plant get set up in their new worship center.

And then we celebrated! Celebrated our work and what God had done over the week. We walked fifteen miles in Rome and saw so many notable sites: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi fountain, the Roman aqueducts, the Spanish Steps, the Forum, Senate and Colosseum. These were lavish, sites bursting with historic significance, glamour, and intrigue.

But the plainest, most understated sight was my favorite.

The Mamertine Prison, a single, drafty, underground room near the forum, was the site that most changed my life. The room was small, dim, and understated, but it is the room where Paul dictated (likely through a grating in the ceiling) many epistles which have altered the course of history. This could have been the room where Paul wrote Philippians, four small chapters that changed my life. But whether in this room or under house arrest, the language of guarding jumped off the page in new ways to me. I was near tears as I thought about Paul talked about the joy he had in Christ while imprisoned.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-424 mamertine prison

And then I thought about Indiana Jones.

Specifically, I thought about the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he is forced to choose the holy grail. Initially his nemesis chooses the golden, bejeweled chalice as the cup of the King of Kings. Afterwards, Indy chooses the understated, scratched, clay pot saying, “This is the cup of a carpenter.” This is a powerful scene that in a way highlights both the transcendence and imminence of Christ. Yes, He could have chosen to drink from the golden cup, to exert authority and power, and would have been within His rights to do that. What is amazing is that he condescended himself, took on flesh, experienced temptation and pain, and drank from the plain clay pot. I had seen extraordinary and beautiful things in Rome that day and the unexpected “clay pot” was my favorite.

God has a way of making ordinary things extraordinary. A stable. Bread and wine. Even a prison cell in Rome. I was struck as I thought about the beauty of this often overlooked, understated, holy room.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-423

What ordinary thing has God made extraordinary in your experience?

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