Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter: Why Madoka doesn't measure up

So for Easter Sunday, I can't help but thinking of the parallels between Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the Easter story. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday, I struggled and struggled at fitting together the puzzle pieces. Madoka represents Jesus, Kyubey is Satan, who's Homura? But all those comparisons break down when you look at the most important part of Easter.

To be fair, I don't know that much about Madoka Magica, the series or the fandom. I know far more about the Easter story. As someone who was fully intent on becoming a pastor before deciding against it, I know a whole lot about theology, far more than I do about the Madoka series. So maybe my assumptions about Madoka are off.

All five girls make some sort of sacrifice in the series. Kyoko Sakura's sacrifice is particularly poignant; from what I understand, she sacrifices herself to Kyubey in order to get people to believe her father's heresy. (These days in real life, no sacrifice necessary.) Madoka Kaname is always praised as being the Christ figure because she sacrifices herself to save all magical girls from ever becoming witches. And while obviously no story is going to exactly mirror the Christian story in any way, I see Madoka as a rather weak figure to represent Christ, because from what I understand, not only does she disappear, she is absent from nearly everyone's memories.

Our Easter liturgy this morning included this verse from 1 Corinthians 15:26: "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (By the way, if you don't go to a church that has liturgical Bible passage, or one that fails to open the Bible altogether, you really should consider a different one.) The power of Easter isn't in a mere sacrifice, in a mere atonement. The power of Easter is in an empty tomb, the complete conquering of the most powerful enemy of all: death.

So Madoka doesn't pass the test. She doesn't come back to life. She may have saved Homura and the magical girls, but she cannot measure up ultimately. Had Jesus Christ remained dead, He would have been no better than any of the prophets, and his death would have been rendered meaningless. But just as He promised, He rose victorious from the grave, and now, as my pastor described it this morning, death is but a "toothless lion."

So believe in Him: not merely one who made a great sacrifice, but one who claimed victory over the grave. He defeated sin on Good Friday, the devil in between, and death on Easter. And when our Soul Gems run out, we will have eternal life.
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