The other week Sarah and I went to see the much talked about film The Revenant. Star Leonardo DiCaprio is hopeful that the ordeal of filming this harrowing movie, not to mention his acting talents will bag him a Best Actor Oscar. It will make braving freezing temperatures, eating dollops of raw meat and looking rather scruffy and unkempt all worthwhile. As well as being mauled by terrifyingly real CGI Grizzly Bear.
A 'revenant' is a mythical creature who returns from the grave to wreak vengeance upon those who have done bad stuff. And boy, does lead character Hugh Glass have some bad stuff done to him? His fur trapper pals leave him for dead in a freezing wilderness after he got mauled by said bear. And to make things worse, (spoiler) one of them (John Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy) kills his son.
The film switches between lingering shots of the beauty of nature; bubbling streams, shafts of sunlight through forests. snow encrusted hills and plains, and then there's the ugly reality of human heartlessness and cruelty. Pristine snow is stained by innocent blood, which, like Abel's cries out from the ground for vengeance.
When the inevitable happens and Glass and Fitzgerald get to fight it out mano a mano, we discover how sweet or sour is the dish that is best served cold. (Spoiler) Suffice to say, Glass doesn't forgive the unrepentant Fitzgerald, but he remembers the words of a Pawnee companion, "revenge is in the Creator's hands". So, rather than finishing off his enemy with his own hands, Glass lets the injured man drift downstream to meet his fate. Attempted revenge doesn't provide Glass with the existential catharsis for which he longed. All he has left is haunted memories of love and loss.
Evil deeds call for a recompense. But the blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel. His sacrifice speaks forgiveness to guilty sinners. Through faith in him our sins, though red like scarlet, are made as white as snow. The believer is to forgive as they were forgiven. When people who have wronged us reject our offer of forgiveness, still, it is not for us to take revenge. The Pawnee was right, "revenge is in the Creator's hands", Romans 12:19. And the Creator has committed all judgement into the hands of his Son whom he raised from the dead that he might put the world to rights, Acts 17:30-31.