On April 10, 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote one of America's most brilliant classics.
Behold, The Great Gatsby.
I've always wondered if Fitzgerald knew that ninety years later, his literary techniques, his way of storytelling, and his character development skills would create crazy, obsessive fans like myself, driven to Google every article about him, pull up old documentaries about his life, rent the couple of movies that has been based off of his book, read the book twice in less than three months my sophomore year of high school, relentlessly pushed until I owned both the book and movie myself, and of course, fell in love with its star character - the great and honorable, Jay Gatsby.
While it isn't hard for me to feel a connection between me and most of the characters I read about in my favorite novels, there was something about Gatsby that I couldn’t stop obsessing over. His benevolence, his welcoming presence, his mysteries, his specific plans for himself, and more prominently, the love that he had for a woman named Daisy whom he hasn't seen in five years created an inexplicable emotion that I felt towards Gatsby's character. For all the months that I’ve Googled Gatsby and (SPOILER ALERT!!!) mourned over his death, I still wasn’t satisfied. I felt his death on a personal level, knowing that he died for a crime that he didn’t commit all because of the love he had for Daisy, who (SPOILER ALERT!!!) wouldn’t even show up to his funeral. She was heartless and dishonest, guilty and sick, as she (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) was the one who killed Myrtle Wilson, but let Gatsby take the blame. She took his love for granted, abandoning him, even after Gatsby died the death meant for Daisy.
The entire plot left me hurt and empty, as if I knew Gatsby personally. And, after researching profoundly and exhausting the character of Gatsby, I found out why him and I felt so familiar. His love for a woman who couldn't care less about him, his extraordinary attempts to seek her out, his willingness to abandon his glory and castle and riches reminded me of one man.
Did He not do the same for me? In the same way Gatsby was so in love with Daisy that he traded his million dollar castle, his parties, and his respect just to be with her is the same way my Jesus traded Heaven's glory, His kingdom, His honor in Heaven, His throne just to come down to earth and establish a relationship with someone like me. In the same way Gatsby got jealous to see Daisy with Tom Buchanan, a man who cared nothing about her, is the same way God gets jealous for me when I'm occupied by ever-fleeting vanity. I see how Gatsby went to great lengths just to show Daisy how much he was in love with her, and I recognize that Jesus went to even greater lengths just to prove His love for me. In fact, Gatsby did so much as taking the blame for Daisy when she was the one with blood on her hands. Yet, Jesus did even greater when He took my sin and died for it on a cross when it was my sin to die for.
All that Gatsby did for Daisy, seeking her out, exchanging the glory to love her, even taking a bullet for a murder she committed, Jesus did it all. He took His incomparable, cushioned throne where He was worshiped, adored, honored, and glorified and traded it for the world who spit on Him, criticized Him, even crucified Him, just to seek out the ones He loved, just to prove to us how far beyond God is from being just infatuated with us, to show that He wants to have a relationship with us. And what a reflection Daisy provides, responding to Gatsby's love by running away with Tom Buchanan, a man who didn't cherish her the way Gatsby did. Even greater, how do we respond to the way Jesus cherishes us?
And, that’s why I felt so connected to Gatsby. He reminded me way too much of my relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of my life. Yet, while the two have many similarities, there is one big difference.
Jesus isn't fiction.
He is a real man, the Son of God, who died a brutal death for me and for you while we were still sinners. He loved us too much to let us die for our sins ourselves. He knows our names. He cares about us. He calls us worthy and treasure and royalty. He was perfect, but He took the blame. The Lord of Heaven and Earth humbled himself and died for sins that weren't His because He loved you and I that much.
One final thing: A single bullet and Gatsby, along with his earthly castles and riches and glory, ended, but thirty-nine whips beating against His back, a crown of thorns twisted together squeezing the blood out of His head, strangers plucking His beard, His precious face being slapped, punched, and kicked while blindfolded, His cheek being a home to the spit of hypocrites, three nails crushing His hands and His feet, a spear stabbed into His side, and my Jesus still ain’t dead! With His resurrection, we can be born again as well, because our sins are paid in full on the cross, and we are free from death forever. Amen!
So, yes, I will always be a fan of Gatsby. His love for Daisy was beautiful. But, while many readers may think that Gatsby had the greatest love of all, I serve a God much greater than Gatsby.