The Blues Brothers


It's 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses, so let’s hit it and see what God showed me in The Blues Brothers!

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Rated R

Directed by John Landis            Universal Studios

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Carrie Fisher, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, James Brown 

Two blues-music-loving brothers hit the road to put their band back together so they can save the orphanage they grew up in.

Opening Thoughts

I don’t remember seeing this movie for the first time, but of course I watched Saturday Night Live a lot where the Blues Brothers were first featured. The Blues Brothers was actually the first “SNL” movie. I do remember watching it a lot in college. I had a friend named John who resembled John Belushi a bit, and he and another friend of ours played The Blues Brothers in a lip sync that was straight up genius. I mean, they had the routine down pat! So we would watch it a lot then, and I still enjoy it now for the crazy antics, amazing musical performances by blues legends, and quotable quotes.

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses, so let’s hit it and see what God showed me in The Blues Brothers!

Spoilers For The Blues Brothers here!

The movie begins with Jake Blues being released from prison and being picked up by his brother, Elwood. They travel to the orphanage where they were brought up to visit the nun who raised them, Sister Mary Stigmata. Sister Mary tells them the orphanage is going to be closed down, because they owe $5000 in taxes. Jake immediately offers to get her the money to pay for it, but she throws them out, insisting she will not accept any stolen money.

The boys visit their old mentor, Curtis, and he suggests they go to church to seek answers. The duo head to the Triple Rock Baptist Church where they receive their “mission from God”: put their band back together to earn the money to save the orphanage. The brothers travel around recruiting their old band members, all the while avoiding the police, Illinois Nazis, and Jake’s homicidal ex-girlfriend.

The brothers stage a gig at a country-western bar where they end up actually owing money, but then land a big opportunity at a large hotel north of Chicago. The band plays and are a huge success, making enough money to pay the band, pay off their debts, and save the orphanage. Jake and Elwood take the money and drive to Chicago, tailed by police and military (“The use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers has been approved!”) the entire way, finally paying off the orphanage’s taxes moments before they are arrested. The movie ends with Jake and Elwood playing “Jailhouse Rock” in front of a large group of ecstatic prison inmates.

Check out the latest Men at the Movies podcast on The Blues Brothers!

 In a world filled with uncertainty and unpredictability, Jake and Elwood serve as a reminder that having faith in oneself and staying true to one’s beliefs can help navigate through any storm. So next time you find yourself facing chaos and uncertainty, remember the example set by the Blues Brothers – stay true to your beliefs, keep the faith, and you just might come out on top.

So What Did God Show Me?

-I know it’s a little thing, but I noticed that Jake has drawn a cross on his hand near his name. I mean, this could mean anything, it could be a reminder to him of the orphanage where he and Elwood grew up, he could have been just doodling. But it had some flair around it that made me wonder. Maybe Jake drew it to remind himself he wasn’t alone in prison. That there was still hope, that he wouldn’t be in there forever. Like I said, it was a little thing, but I liked it.

-One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when Jake and Elwood go to visit “the Penguin”, Sister Mary Stigmata, who raised them. All sorts of weird things happen, like doors opening and closing on their own, she seems to sense their presence before they knock, and there’s big creepy Jesus crucifixes everywhere. I think sometimes people see the church and religion like that, creepy and mystical and impossible to understand and even kind of scary. Jesus is forever stuck on a cross, and he’s always sad-eyed or in pain or looking mournful.

While I would agree that there are definitely things about Christianity and the supernatural that are mystical and hard to understand, I think people need to understand the truth, that there is so much MORE! Yes, the Christian life is mystical, but that’s part of the wonder of being a Christian! God promises in Jeremiah 33:3 that if we call to him, he will answer us, and show us great and mighty things, which we do not know. This is one of my absolute favorite verses ever, because how cool is it that God wants to share the secrets of the universe with us?? God’s a God of the impossible, of the incredible, of miracles and making ways where there seems to be no way. And Jesus is more than a man stuck on a cross, and that he’s not sad-eyed or suffering, not anymore. He loves us and is a man full of glory and power, yet one who is willing to humble himself and meet us where we are. He is still doing this today, as we will see later in the movie.

-There’s an interesting bit in the movie novelization that’s not in the movie, and it takes place when Sister Mary Stigmata shares with Jake and Elwood how the orphanage will be shut down because they need $5000 for their taxes, Jake is very quick to offer to cover the cost for her. (Which is very nice of him.) But Sister Mary refuses to take his money, knowing that he only plans on stealing it. In the novelization, she reminds Jake that he just got out of jail for stealing money, and Jake is quick to come up with an excuse, that he needed the money to pay the band, and that he didn’t have a choice. As strict as she is with the brothers, I love the Sister’s response: that of course Jake had a choice, he just preferred to take the easiest way out of the situation. She refuses to let Jake fall into sin again because of her need, and kicks them both out of her office, telling them “not to come back until they’ve redeemed themselves.”

I have to hand it to Sister Mary here. Her orphanage, where she’s raised generations of boys as family, is about to be shut down. It’s the only home she’s ever known. Her boys will be sent away, and she will be sent to the mission field. Everything about her life is about to change (and not necessarily for the better). But she is still able to stay strong enough in her convictions and her faith to ORDER Jake not to sin by stealing again, not even for her. Sister Mary believes that God will come through somehow, and that Jake doesn’t need to sin to solve the problem.

How many of us have found ourselves in a situation where we feel so stuck, and it seems like the only way out is a shady one? Not true! God will never leave us in a place where our only option is to indulge in sin. There is ALWAYS another way out! Don’t give in to the temptation to “Just this once” or “No one will ever know”. God doesn’t want that for you. He is over and in all things, and he won’t leave us alone with no help. If you’re in the middle of a situation where you’re being tempted to sin to fix the issue, I’d encourage you to instead keep your eyes on Jesus and trust him, and see what he will do!

-The boys go to visit their friend Curtis, the janitor, and he reiterates to them that they shouldn’t be stealing money, even if it is to help save the orphanage, and admonishes Jake and Elwood to “get to church.” Jake rebuffs him roundly, saying he doesn’t need to hear any “jive-a** preacher” talking to him about heaven and hell. But Curtis insists, and Jake and Elwood, because of the great respect they have for their mentor, finally agree. But oh, when they do, something amazing happens!

God knew that being brought up in a stifling religious atmosphere had made Jake and Elwood disinterested in him and anything he had to say. So God got creative. I LOVE this. God not only meets us where we’re at, he speaks to us in a way we’ll understand. And to prove this, how does he speak to Jake and Elwood? Through what they love – music! God knew that the way to get through to the brothers wasn’t preaching, it wasn’t words…that MUSIC was the key to opening their hearts and minds to Him. The music, dancing, and pure joy the boys experience at the Triple Rock church is unlike anything they’d been brought up with, and it really opened their eyes to who God is – a God of love, of joy! A God who loves music, laughter, and fun! A God worthy of exuberant praise! The reality of this truth affects Jake so much he starts shaking before the presence of God, and then bursts forth in a glorious dance of worship, which soon spreads to Elwood. And the best part? God gives Jake a vision where he reveals a plan to save the orphanage, a God-inspired plan that doesn’t need to involve stealing. Jake thought he knew the best way to save the orphanage, but sometimes the best way isn’t really the best way, merely the easiest. God had a better plan, which he revealed to the boys: put their band back together, and earn the money needed. He gave the boys fresh faith in him, his plan, and their part in it, and so they go forth, joyfully declaring that they’ve “seen the light” and are now “on a mission from God.”

-I love how God uses the most unlikely people to accomplish his purposes. Jake and Elwood are, in Sister Mary’s words, “Thieves with filthy mouths and bad attitudes.” And yet it’s these two men, plus their band members, whom he uses to accomplish his mission. I mean, look at all the different kinds of people God has used through the ages. Fishermen, shepherds, tax collectors, prostitutes, pagan kings, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, liars, murderers. Imagine what God could do through you 😉

-I think it is SO COOL how once the brothers have realized their “mission from God” and go about pursuing it, they are completely certain and expectant of their success, no matter what happens!

First of all, the boys, in their confidence, expect God’s favor everywhere as they go, and boy do they receive it! They have assurance that God will help them bring their former band members back, and tell them as much (“Ma’am, would it help if you knew that what I was asking Matt to do is a HOLY thing?”)

They expect He will provide for them with venues and gigs, and that people will attend their concerts.

They expect He will help them escape their pursuers (“They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.”) They have a “magic” car that can do miraculous jumps over bridges, outrun every police and military vehicle in the state, and holds together and keeps running even when it shouldn’t.

Also, God supernaturally protects the brothers throughout the entire time they are carrying out their “mission from God.” They are shot at, have a building crash down around them, have a fuel tank explode next to them, and are launched into the air inside a phone booth. And yet each time they just get up, brush themselves off, and nonchalantly go about their business. They aren’t afraid of death, because they’re on a mission from God, which they fully believe that they will succeed in accomplishing. And like the Blues Brothers, God has given us everything we need to succeed.

-I think often when we first get our own “missions from God”, we can be very excited (as we should be!) We can expect that everything will be smooth sailing because we’re on a mission from God, right? Um, no. Life is always going to have problems, God promises this, but, he also promises that he will be with us, so we don’t have to fear. He will make a way for us. What’s important is our attitudes and our faith as we go. I don’t think Jake and Elwood expected their way to be easy, just that they would succeed. The brothers had loads of problems, police, Nazis, and crazy ex girlfriends chasing them, no money, people constantly telling them they’re going to fail…but they BELIEVED what God had given them to do, so whatever was happening around them didn’t matter. Death, danger, lack of finances, chaos, it just didn’t matter. Jake and Elwood remained unconcerned through it all, letting none of it hinder their resolve. Chaos is going to happen, so know that. When it happens, hang on tight to God and his faithfulness. My friend Allen in his book, Chaos Can’t, says “With God, we can enter the chaos without letting the chaos enter us.”

-One thing I never noticed until I rewatched the film recently is this: when the boys do finally get the money they need through a very generous advance from a record producer, they didn’t keep any of the money for themselves. They paid their band, they paid Ray’s Music Exchange, and they paid the orphanage taxes, and didn’t keep a cent for themselves…because that wasn’t part of their mission. Their mission was to save the orphanage, not to better themselves, and they understood that. I think that’s really awesome.

-It’s interesting that the boys ended up back in jail at the end. As much as God used them, and as much as they trusted him to help them accomplish their mission, the boys still tried to do some things their way. They lied, stole, manipulated, and blackmailed. So even though God still used them, it didn’t dismiss their sin. God is a God of mercy and compassion, but he’s also a God of justice. So, even though the boys completed their mission from God successfully, they still ended up in jail to pay penance for their crimes. But, God didn’t abandon them there. The movie ends with them still using their God-given gifts of music to spread joy and encouragement. So maybe they’ll get out of there someday 😉

Closing Thoughts

I think if I had one takeaway from this movie it would be: HOLY CRAP! What would our lives LOOK LIKE if we had the same level of faith that Jake and Elwood had?? The belief that they could not fail, because they were sent by God? To live fearless, unbothered by anything that comes our way? Undisturbed by threat of danger, loss of home, finances, of life? I mean, NOTHING fazes these guys. A building collapses on them and they get up and shake it off like nothing happened because they’re on a mission from God!

I wish I could live my life more like a Blues Brother. I let so many things (and I’m talking stupid little things like getting a bad DoorDash review, or the shower drain clogging) bother me way too much. So many times obstacles stand in my way and it feels like the end of the world. Too often anxiety and panic win. But I’m praying today for myself and for all of you reading this: God, give us the faith of the Blues Brothers. The simple faith that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13). Now go forthwith in that faith and shake a tailfeather!

Back in 2004 I was in Los Angeles for an Oscar party with the cast and crew of Lord of the Rings (yes you read that right). While I was there, I decided to take the Universal Studios VIP tour which was one of the coolest things I’ve EVER done! Here’s a few Blues Brothers pictures from while I was there.

Links I Like

Links I like:

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop your favorite part of the movie or your Christmas stories in the comments!


Blue Brothers picture list

Universal Studios Pics: (from when I went back in 2004)

  • Elwood’s briefcase, handcuffs, hat, and sunglasses props from the movie
  • The Blues Brothers’ Rhythm and Blues Revue
  • The Bluesmobile with the boys encouraging people to come to the revue later in the day
  • Bluesmobile again
  • The “Brews” Brothers coffee bar


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