Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
– John 15:13 (KJV)
I recently heard a wonderful sermon on the value of friendship by Tim Keller. He spoke of how when it comes down to it, friendship is about a person choosing to be intimate with you. Christ called us friends, and took that love to the ultimate end point – death in place of us.
In the final episode of Charlotte, Yuu acts as that friend for all the children with the Charlotte disease, taking their illnesses upon himself and saving their lives. And yet, despite his noble act, Yuu isn’t the best of Christ figures – but maybe that’s because he’s not only an image of Christ, but also an image of us.
Yuu as Christ
As I mentioned before, Charlotte treats the mutations as a disease. Because of its origin, there’s no X-Men/Marvel style debate here – it’s something that needs to be cured. And as Christ took our sins upon himself at greatest personal cost, Yuu plunders the users’ and carriers’ abilities, knowing that it may destroy him.
Episode 13, though, gives us I think a unique insight into Christ, one that scripture only sparingly shows us – that of what Christ must have felt when he died in our place. No, he didn’t forget himself (or us), nor do I think he had to remind himself of why this was happening to him. But the physical and emotional toll upon Yuu might make us think about what Christ went through.
I’ve heard it said that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t much of one at all, him being God. On the contrary, though, I say it was far more so because of who he is. Perfect and pure, like the purest lamb, he was butchered (physical pain) and taken for the first time ever out of his perfect loving relationship with the Father, the only perfect relationship and the only one ever justified (emotional pain). Christ’s agony was demonstrated by his cries on the cross, and the distress upon him pictured by Yuu’s weariness and loss of himself when taking in everyone’s diseases.
But unlike Yuu, Christ never forgot. Christ cried that “it is finished” when he was about to die, fully knowing that the tortured he endured was for reason and done as he had planned. Sin nailed Christ to the cross – but Christ always, fully and consciously, allowed it to happen.
Yuu as You and Me
Although Yuu became a Christ figure in the second half of Charlotte, the first half was all about his redemption from a spoiled boy into someone willing to risk his life out of unselfish love for others. And he was redeemed, of course, by Nao Tomori.
Nao’s loving actions, those that saved Yuu, drove him to change, to be transformed, and that transformation was ultimately genuine enough for Yuu to take on the mission he did. Yuu frequently questioned himself and often failed to do things well (and with right mind) along the path. He was imperfect – already so by nature, and made more so by the abilities he took on. But in his failures and in his pains, he looked toward two things for hope: words and a promise.
If Nao is to be seen as a Christ figure herself, then the translated book of phrases she gave him, those words that she prepared especially for him to help accomplish his mission, can allude to the words of God, scripture, the Bible. When Yuu was done, when Yuu forgot his way, when Yuu wanted to turn away, he looked toward those words. He treasured them and loved them because of who wrote them and what they really meant. In our sufferings as Christians, we find comfort in God’s words, especially when the road is hard – and if we don’t turn to scripture, we usually begin to turn away from the truth and find comfort in another mission, another love, and thus, away from truth-setting words of life and toward the lies of the world.
When Yuu can’t recall anything at all, Nao’s words help him tearfully remembers a promise, one that’s under lock and key, as good as gold. In our walks, we lean on God’s promises, too – knowing that even in hardship we can have joy, because we have Christ.
And when Yuu awakes and cashes in on his promise, he sees a self-described lover who is full of love and adoration toward him. And Nao, in this moment – and in others – reminds me a whole of how scripture describes God – as faithful (1 Cor 1:9), emotional (Luke 15:11-32), and patient (2 Peter 3:9).
In Nao’s expression of truth and love, I saw God – a loving father who waits for us, his promise in hand. And in Yuu, I see you and me, those who will one day find relief and rest with our lover, our friend, a God who awaits the day when we’ll be with him. When just as Yuu, we’ll finally be at home.