The other day, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry — neither had I. The story centers on a group of angels who move through the streets of Berlin, unseen by people around them. These angels, and the audience, are able to hear an almost endless stream of prayers from the citizens of Berlin. The angels experience the hopes, the dreams, and the pain and loneliness of each individual. Whether it’s the wish of an old poet at the end of his life or the dreams of a young mother, or the last moments before a suicide — the angels are there, experiencing every moment, and actively rooting for humanity’s ultimate good.
While the concept of “guardian angels” has more rooting in legend than in biblical exegesis, the film is a profound and spiritually intriguing look through the curtain of this present reality. In some ways, it gives us a creative understanding of what a heavenly perspective might feel like.
I was struck by just how close the experiences of these angels were to that of Christ Jesus. Our Lord became one of us, taking on our nature, becoming fully human while remaining fully divine and one with God. Jesus walked alongside mankind. He suffered blisters on his feet. He was cold when the night came, and he was hungry when he went without food. He experienced evil in the world and its consequences. He encountered those sinning and those being sinned against. He felt the wrenching pangs of compassion for the lost.
Because of his incarnation, we know that he has experienced what is at the root of every pain, every hurt, and every joy that is humanly possible. Jesus has endured all things to bring us into right relationship with our Triune God. And through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we know that Christ is with us still.
It can be difficult to picture what that looks like. Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire isn’t a bad place to start. What we see there is a deeply empathetic understanding of humanity and a hoping and encouraging and cheering for the best that mankind can be. But through Christ, there is more than hoping. By his Word and Spirit, our Prophet, Priest and King is actively working to bring us and all things into their fullness of being. He is putting all authorities and powers under his subjection. He has conquered evil and death. In Christ we have a sympathetic high priest who is the Maker and Creator of all things — and who is remaking us and perfecting us, his beloved.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.