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Katniss' Substitution in 'The Hunger Games' Movie

If you've read the book The Hunger Games or seen the movie you'll know the plot revolves around a horrible contest fought between young representatives of twelve futuristic districts. The winner of the Hunger Games is the last one standing as the contestants are forced to kill each other to stay alive. When the authorities come to choose the contestants—one boy and one girl—from District 12 for the 74th annual Hunger Games, the name of Primrose (or Prim) Everdeen is plucked from a large bowl containing all the children's name. As the authorities lead Primrose away, her older sister Katniss suddenly intervenes and shouts Prim's name. The guards stop Katniss from approaching Prim, but Katniss shouts, "No! I volunteer! I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!" So Katniss becomes the representative for District 12.

Katniss provides a moving example of courage and sacrificial love. After all, she voluntarily substitutes herself for another human being. But it's also an understandable substitution. She does it for her little sister. It's admirable, but it's the kind of thing we hope we'd all do for our younger siblings or our children or our spouses.

But Jesus' substitution doesn't work like that. Whose place does Jesus the Messiah take? He takes the place of people like the cowardly disciples, the scheming religious leaders, and spineless politicians. He takes the place of people like the blood-stained Barabbas and the cursing criminal. The people are the reason that Jesus has to drink the cup of God's wrath. We're the reason that Jesus is dying. How could we ever take this for granted?

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