We’re kicking off a brand new series: Summer at the Movies! Throughout the series, we’re studying Jesus’ parables through the lens of modern-day movies and to kick things off, Zack Spangler brings us Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory and highlights Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in comparison with the timeless 1970’s film.
In the words of Mr. Wonka himself, 🎶 Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…🎶 Let’s dive in! If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember that Willy Wonka is an eccentric millionaire with the most famous chocolate factory in all the world. After keeping the doors to the factory closed for decades to preserve his candy making secrets, he unexpectedly decides to hide 5 golden tickets in 5 Wonka Bars that will be distributed across the globe.
As you know from the story, 5 unique children find the 5 rare tickets and have an opportunity to tour Wonka’s incredible factory and 1 of the lucky 5 will even win a lifetime supply of chocolate. Throughout the plot of the film, one by one the children slowly eliminate themselves from the tour–thanks to their own selfish desires–until the only child remaining is…you guessed it…Charlie.
Not only is Charlie the only child who makes it to the end of the tour, receiving the grand prize of unlimited chocolate, but he also wins the grand prize of inheriting Willy Wonka’s entire factory! The film is a classic, no doubt, but what does Charlie’s fictitious story have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven? That’s exactly what we’re covering in Part 1 of Summer at the Movies. 🍿
In Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory at timestamp 5:32, we see a clip from the film that emphasizes the value each of these 5 golden tickets hold. We see in this movie that the golden tickets are the only thing that matters to everyone in the world at that time. This idea of immeasurable value is exactly how Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 13:44-46 (NKJV) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Zack’s message shows us–through the comparison of Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory with The Parable of the Sower–that Jesus’ kingdom has more value than anything else we could possibly imagine. So how do we become like Charlie and inherit the grand prize? We follow these 3 practical, simple steps!
Just like the golden tickets in Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory, Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as the most valuable possession in all the world. Life with Jesus–salvation–is better than the greatest earthly prize anyone could ever receive! Jesus is more important than anything else.
As silly as it may seem in the film that people are willing to sacrifice everything for a golden ticket, it’s easy for us to become guilty of the same habits. We give our time, our energy, and our attention searching not for “golden tickets”, but searching for tickets of acceptance and approval, value and worth, and rest and peace. All of these things are good things! But we can’t look for the right things in the wrong places.
As believers, we know that…
Jesus loves and accepts us just as we are.
Jesus found us worthy enough to pay the highest price for our souls.
Jesus fills our voids and He came down from heaven to bear our burdens.
There is only one ticket that matters: Our ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven. The moment we become born again believers, we become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. We no longer belong to the earth; our citizenship is in Heaven. Praise the Lord! So, how do we find the only ticket that matters? We first do these 2 things:
At timestamp 10:41 in Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory, Zack shares a personal story of his that highlights the importance of knowing the value of what we’re searching for. While it’s easy to understand the monetary value of a new car or the social value of stature, may we be daily reminded of the immeasurable value of the ticket we have received in Christ. There is nothing more worthy of getting excited for, nothing more important, than our salvation in Jesus!
God’s grace is never devalued and never grows stale. In a world that celebrates flashy and new and instant gratification, let’s remember and honor the truth of God’s grace, His goodness, and His forgiveness.
Here’s a hard-hitting question we should all consider: What do we do with things that are valuable? We cherish them, honor them, and give our energy and attention to them. Let’s reflect on what was the last thing we did with our ticket this past week? This past month? Jesus said that the ticket of salvation is worth giving away everything.
Whether it’s enrolling in a Bible Basics class or joining a V Group or serving in church or even reading our Bible daily–we should value and prioritize our ticket for what it’s worth. When we understand and appreciate the true value of our ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven, we live differently. We live life purposefully and intentionally, giving all of ourselves to Jesus, in the way God intended for us too. Amen!
In the gospel of Matthew, a rich young ruler asks Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Here’s what Jesus tells him:
Matthew 19:21-22 (NKJV) 21Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
We know that the Gospel is free. God’s grace is something that we could never earn even with our best attempts. Jesus is the only one who can purchase our freedom! It’s only by God’s grace that we are saved. So why did Jesus seemingly demand so much of this rich young ruler?
The man in this story wanted Jesus to be his savior, not to be his Lord. He wanted Jesus to give him eternal life, but he wasn’t willing to give Jesus his own life. This young ruler was not ready to pay the cost for his golden ticket. But the Bible says that we cannot serve two masters because we will love one and hate the other. Everything comes with a cost. What will it take for us to surrender all to Jesus?
Salvation is a free gift that will cost you everything. — Tony Cooke
In the very next chapter of Matthew, we see the story of Zacchaeus. Through his story, we see that salvation is never about the money or the possessions or the things; it’s about the heart. God is after our hearts; He’s after all of us. God wants to not only be our savior, but also our Lord. The price we pay for salvation pales in comparison to the gift given. Amen!
What are you doing in your everyday life to value your ticket of salvation?
What does surrendering all to Jesus look like to you?
How can we honor God with our words/thoughts/actions in a way that shows our appreciation for his immeasurable gift?
Matthew 13:3-9 (NKJV) 3Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Jesus later explained that the seed in this parable is equivalent to the Word of God. The Word of God has been sown into each and every one of us and by hearing the Gospel, the opportunity of Jesus has been sewn into our lives. The golden ticket has been extended!
Just like the kids in Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory, we’ve each received a golden ticket but, oftentimes, what we do with it looks very different. Veruca was a bad egg and ended up down the garbage chute. Mike shrunk himself into a microscopic flake. Violet turned herself into a blueberry. Augustus got stuck in the chocolate river.
There will be things that want to take us off course and divert us from the plans and purposes that God has for our lives. We discover these risks when Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower:
Matthew 13:20-23 (NKJV) 20But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Let’s not be like the four children in the film who were taken off the tour! Let’s be like Charlie and take hold of our invaluable opportunity as followers of Christ and embrace salvation! So how do we go on the tour and endure till the end? We dig strong roots and beware of the thorns.
In order to make it through the tour of life, we need to dig strong roots; nothing is more important than our foundation! And nothing will sustain our lives like the foundation of God’s word. Amen! Growing in faith is about so much more than theological knowledge; it’s about developing a heart after God’s heart and curating a humble spirit and a pure mind.
In Matthew chapter 7, we see the story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rains came down and the floods came up, the house built on the sand was destroyed while the house on the rock stood firm. One of these men heard the Word while the other applied the Word to his life and abided by it. You can guess which is which!
To dig strong roots, we must understand God’s word and live by it. That is a foundation to live on!
In the passage above, Jesus describes two ways the thorn can deter you from the pathway to the Kingdom of God: the worries of life + the deceitfulness of wealth.
When life gets difficult, there will be temptations to cheapen the Gospel by picking and choosing what works for us to make things easier. When prosecution comes, it will be easier to turn the other way. Worries of life will try to suffocate the seed that God plants in our hearts. Life isn’t easy, but we serve a good God in heaven!
Wealth has the chance to deceive us by leading us to believe that we have everything we need on our own, that we’re self sufficient. Wealth tempts us to think that we don’t need a Lord and Savior. Let’s be aware of these thorns and put our hope, our roots, into Jesus!
Matthew 24:13 (NKJV) But he who endures till the end shall be saved
What thorns in your life have threatened to divert you from your path toward the Kingdom of Heaven?
How have your strong roots protected you from the advances of thorns?
In Willy Wonka + The Chocolate Factory at timestamp 26:23, we see Charlie inherit the grand prize–the entire chocolate factory. Jesus’ words closely reflect the words of Willy Wonka as he passes the grand prize down to us:
Willy Wonka said it this way: “Who am I supposed to give my company to? Not a grown up; a grown up will want to do everything his own way, not mine.”
Jesus said it this way in Matthew 18:3 (NIV) Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
There is beauty in the heart, humility, and purity of a child. To inherit the Kingdom of Heaven when our time on earth comes to an end and we go to be with Jesus, we need to have a childlike spirit as well as a childlike dependence.
Children are honest. They’re authentic. They’re full of wonder. Children dream big without the fear of consequences. Instead of living in competition, constantly striving, Jesus wants us to embrace the innocence and lowliness of a child. Let us not be cynical, angry, or bitter, but instead be humble like a child who is ready to embrace the King of Kings.
Kids are utterly dependent on their parents. We depend on our moms and dads to care for us, provide for us, love us, and nurture us. Parents bring us peace, comfort, and settle our hearts. Like we, as children, depend on our earthly parents, even more so should we depend on our Heavenly Father.
We are called to have a complete reliance on God’s peace, His love, His grace. On earth, children grow up and become less and less dependent on their parents. As believers, we ought to grow more and more dependent on God where we can’t go a day without His presence, without prayer and worship, without communion with Him. He is all we need!
Matthew 6:30 (NKJV) Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
God is dependable, He is worthy of all of our trust and we can take Him at his word!
What would it look like for you to have a childlike spirit?
How can we maintain a childlike dependence on God?
In what ways has God proven His dependability in your life?
Father, we thank you for your love and for your teachings. As we come around your Word, we ask that you transform us and shape us and mold us more into the people that you’ve called us to be. Lord, we come to you with hungry hearts and ask that you have your way with us. We look to you, God, for guidance and wisdom and understanding as we uncover the meaning and value of the Parable of the Sower. In Jesus’ name, Amen!