If you’re a LOSTaholic like me, you will be familiar with this clip from a recent episode of the show. But whether you’ve seen LOST or not, this scene packs a real emotional punch. (If you don’t know much about the show, here’s some background information so that you’ll be able to get a better handle on things):
The Island: A mysterious, supernatural place, where the characters are currently stranded.
Locke: A devilish figure, mysteriously bound to the Island, who is attempting to escape with some devoted followers.
Ben: A Machiavellian, murderous, deceitful man who for years ruled the island under Jacob and sought to protect his power at the expense of his own family. He eventually stabbed Jacob to death.
Jacob: The god-like ruler of the Island who was savagely murdered by Ben.
Iliana (woman with the gun): Jacob’s body-guard and adopted daughter who captured Ben and plans to execute him.
When I first saw this scene from Lost, I cried. Behind those tears, two things were going on inside of me: 1. an unhealthy attachment to this show and 2. the realization that this scene was a brilliant portrayal of the most penetrating truths of Christianity (the human plight, a heart-borne turn to truth, and a risky absolution).
The maniacal Ben Linus is finally getting what he deserves. He killed his father along with countless others, allowed his own daughter to be murdered, mistreated and lied to all of those who served under him, and worst of all, he killed Jacob (the ‘god’ of the Island)…all to maintain his own power. And now, this disheveled, defeated leader is forced at gun-point by Jacob’s adopted daughter to dig his own grave. Ben is cornered by his own crimes, without hope of escaping severe justice.
THE TURN. Given the opportunity by the devilish Locke to regain his former power, Ben does something rather surprising given his character; he rejects the power-grab and confesses the truth about himself. He explains and apologizes to his captor for his actions and his motives. But more than that, he realizes. He comes to grips with the sort of man he is: a calculating, murderous, power-hungry victimizer. He admits, movingly, “I was terrified that I was about to lose the only thing that ever mattered to me: my power.” The powerful becomes the powerless, forced by bitter circumstances to see himself rightly. Ben knows that he does not warrant mercy. He acknowledges that his remaining utility would be used only for evil.
THE ABSOLUTION. Ben’s repentance is surprising; Iliana’s uncalculated mercy is stunning. The woman who has been so deeply wounded by this offender offers him dis-merited clemency, dignity, and inclusion. She interrupts his downward spiral with altering words of grace: “I’ll have you.” Ben receives a visible shock to the system from her gratuitous mercy, and for the first time in show, he is left stunned and speechless, unable to fathom the gift that he’d just been given. And what a risky gift, this absolution! The most dangerous man on the island was acquitted and set free.
This scene affected me deeply because it spoke penetrating truth about my life. After all, I am that guilty man digging my own grave, justly paying for crimes against my victims and for rejecting the God who came to save me. I am the one who is crushed by life’s circumstances and forced by them to admit my deep-seated hunger for power and control. And I am the one who has been shown risky absolution by the sacrificial God of the Cross. And I am the one who is left standing there, stunned, bewildered, confused, salvaged, sheltered, and born again.