Exodus 9:7 Pharaoh sent men to investigate and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.
Like most movie goers, I went to see the new production of “Les Miserables” on the big screen. It’s part of a Christmas tradition with the Stuarts. On Christmas Day, we go to the latest blockbuster in the morning and then sit down to dinner when we get home. We usually discuss the movie at the table which helps us strengthen our bonds of commonality and love.
“Les Miz” was an amazing movie in so many different ways. The computerized special effects made it appear as if it was actually being shot in the Paris of 1832. Some of the songs were wonderful and the acting was first class. It was, however, a bleak tragedy at times, and the amount of misery that was displayed was harrowing.
I’ve always been intrigued by the character ‘Javert’ and I thought that Russell Crowe played him almost perfectly (Robert Newton has always been my favorite actor to portray Javert). Javert is a police inspector who lives his life devoted to the Law. Justice for him is served by applying the Law clinically and perfectly. Javert has no compassion for anyone. He idolizes the Law and is soulless. His lack of mercy and unswerving dedication to fulfilling the Law is what ruins him in the end. He cannot abide being weak and cannot live with himself when he allows the hero, Jean Valjean, one act of mercy. His dispassion destroys him, causing him to leap to his death into the cold waters of the River Seine in Paris.
Both Bible passages for today (Exodus 9:1-7 and John 8:1-11) involve dispassionate people whose merciless judgments lead to their subsequent destruction. When Pharaoh stubbornly refuses to let the Hebrew go free after the death of livestock, he is choosing to selfishly follow a hard-hearted path that will eventually lead to the death of his son, the destruction of his army, and the end of his reign.
In the Gospel, we come across religious fanatics who want to stone to death a defenseless woman. They are self-righteously full of vengeance and seek to dispassionately destroy a sinner in their midst, in order to preserve the illusion of perfectionism in their religious community. It’s only when Jesus intervenes with some home truths and close to the bone remarks that their attitude changes. However, within a short time, the same kind of religious fanatics are going to go after Jesus, baying for blood, and eventually seeking to have Him crucified. The religious community perfection that they try to harshly maintain will be destroyed within a generation.
We are on the threshold of a New Year. We each will be faced with many different choices. Some of them will be good, but at other times we will make mistakes. Depending upon what we do, our good choices may outweigh our poor decisions, but at the outset of the New Year, we need to be aware of this: all of our choices have consequences.
Question for personal reflection
What are the main choices that I have ahead of me in 2013? Am I willing to listen to Christ’s Voice as the prime directive for my decisions?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, a new year lies ahead of us and none of us knows what kind of journey we will experience. We have dreams and goals, as well as choices and decisions that can bring goodness into our lives and those of our loved ones. Guide us with Your wisdom; lead us by Your love. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s Mackintosh Rose drawings. It’s called “Lo, How a Rose E’r Blooming” in the style of the renowned Scottish art nouveau artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh. If you would like to view a larger version of the drawing, please click on the following link: