Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Because of Mercy, I am Your Man

I’ve never made a list of favorite movies but, if I did, “The Count of Monte Cristo” would be near the top of the list. Starring Jim Caviezel, the movie is a powerful message of freedom.

Edmond Dantès’ best friend frames Dantès for treason. The false accusation leads to a life-time sentence in the oppressive Chateau d’If prison. An escape mistake on the part of fellow prisoner, Abbé Faria, provides the opportunity for education and knowledge for commoner Dantès. Knowledge that proves life-altering by the end of the movie.

But here’s the part I want to share with you today… Against all odds, Edmond attempts a daring escape and succeeds. The prison’s location on an island in the Mediterranean forces him to swim to a nearby island. When he washes ashore, his freedom celebration is short-lived as he finds the island already occupied by a group of smugglers. The smugglers are on the island to bury alive one of their own – Jacopo – who is guilty of keeping some of the loot for himself. The smugglers would prefer Dantès be dead as well rather than know of their actions. Dantès and the captain of the smuggling crew quickly negotiate an alternative. Dantès will fight Jacopo to the death. If Jacopo wins, he will have earned the right to return to the crew. If Dantès wins, the smugglers will allow him to live and take Jacopo’s place among the crew.

The knife fight begins. After a series of swipes, dodges, and lethal choreography, Dantès pins Jacopo to the ground. With the knife pointed at Jacopo’s throat, Dantès says, “As you hope to live, do not move an eyelash.” Rather than thrust the fatal blade, Dantès instead pulls it away from Jacopo’s throat and stabs it into the sandy beach beside his head. He proceeds to make the case for why the captain should allow both men to live; the smuggling captain agrees to the bargain.

Jacopo grabs Dantès by the shirt, pulls him close, and says, “I swear on my dead relatives, I am your man. Forever.”

There we have it – I am your man…forever. Jacopo’s sentence was death; on his own, he knew he had no way out. Suddenly a man stepped in and offered an alternative. Dantès held Jacopo’s life in his hands. Rather than the death Jacopo deserved, Dantès offered him life. Jacopo knew the gravity of the situation. He knew Dantès had given him life; the only acceptable response was to then spend that life in service to Dantès.

I came across this verse in the Psalms and it reminded me of this scene from “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

God holds our lives in His hands; our death-deserving, sin-filled lives. He could have thrust in the knife and left us dead on the beach. But he didn’t; instead, He extended mercy. He made the case for why not only He but also we will live. God heard the case and accepted the bargain.

Like Jacopo and like the author of the Psalm, our only acceptable response is to pull in close to Christ and say, “I am your man. Truly I am your servant. You have freed me from my chains. Forever.”

Now, I’m off to pop some popcorn and watch the movie…

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