In fact, only Clark Gable sold more tickets at theaters than did John Wayne. Given his immense popularity with fans, it may be somewhat surprising then that Wayne was only awarded one Academy Award. That came in one of my personal all-time favorite movies – 1969’s “True Grit”.
In this first Hollywood treatment of Charles Portis’ runaway bestseller of the same name, Wayne portrayed the one-eyed Federal Marshal, “Rooster Cogburn”, against Kim Darby’s “Mattie Ross” and Glen Campbell’s Texas Ranger, “LeBoeuf”. (A second adaptation was produced by the Coen brothers in 2010.)
I still remember the night my parents first took my sister and me to see this movie when it was first released. As a child, I had always held John Wayne in high regard. But seeing him get the bad guys, save the day, and rescue the damsel in distress cemented him forever in my mind as the quintessential American hero!
(Of course, these days, I am older and a bit wiser. I now understand that leading men always save the day by besting the bad guys and rescuing the girl! But when one is eight years old, he understandingly lacks the benefit of such insights.)
In any event, if you are familiar with the plot, you will likely know that Marshall Cogburn didn’t do all these things by himself. He had a little help – from both young “Mattie Ross” and the Texas Ranger “LeBoeuf”. In the climactic scene where Mattie has fallen backward into the pit full of rattlesnakes after having shot Tom Cheney (the bad guy) with her father’s “Colt’s Dragoon”, Marshal Cogburn descends by rope to rescue her.
Unable to carry her up out of the pit, he finds that he is nonetheless pulled up and out with her on his shoulder by the mortally wounded LeBoeuf. Shortly thereafter, as “Mattie” and “Marshal Cogburn” kneel over the deceased Texas Ranger, John Wayne, in his role as “Marshal Cogburn”, makes the following statement: “Texican! He saved my neck twice. Once when he was dead!”
As I reflect on these words, I am reminded of the story found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament Gospel of John, where the scribes and Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. In an attempt to trap Him, they inquire as to whether or not they should stone her according to the Law of Moses. Jesus, of course, knows their hearts, and challenges them accordingly: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”
Thereafter, one by one, her speechless accusers began to depart. In the process, Jesus literally saved her life! John's Gospel goes on to record that, a couple of years later, this same Jesus gave His own life on an old rugged cross for the sins of all men and women. In so doing, He saved this particular woman’s life twice – once when He was dead!
The first time around, He saved her life physically. The second time around, He saved her life spiritually! And this second time, in the spiritual sense, He did so by giving His own life in the process!
Of course, what He did for this woman He also did for you and me. I trust you realize this. I trust you also take the time to acknowledge this! For this Judean, this Bethlehem-born Nazorean, has truly saved our lives – and He did so once and for all – when He was dead! And by his death, we are made alive, both for this world and for the world to come!
MOVIE QUOTE: https://www.quotes.net/mquote/99431.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/bsb/john/8.htm.