Main Point: We must always remember what we have our hope in.
Movie – The Count of Monte Cristo
This movie is about Edmond Dantes (Jim Caviezel), who is betrayed and banished for life in prison. While in prison, he meets a priest who helps him find hope. The old man helps him escape prison, and shows Dantes where he can find the hidden gold of Monte Cristo. After becoming rich from the gold, Dantes (now the Count) sets out to make his life right by confronting his betrayer and once again winning the heart of his long lost love. This movie is a wonderful movie showing how hope and focus can save a man’s life. It’s a clean movie with no swearing, excellent action/adventure, and a great performance by Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce.
Today we’re going to talk about hope. To introduce the subject, we’re going to look at a scene from The Count of Monte Cristo.
In this scene, Dantes has been in prison for seven years and has lost all hope. But a priest who is also in the same prison has just dug a hole into Dantes’ cell. Pay close attention to the difference in Dantes’ attitude from the beginning of the scene to the end.
Clip: Hope restored
This particular clip shows Dantes in prison after 7 years. He has lost all hope. In the scene, he has just been “discovered” by the Priest, who just spent the last five years digging a hole, bound for escape, in the wrong direction. The priest, with exchange for Dantes’ help, offers to teach Dantes all kinds of knowledge. The scene ends with Dantes having a newfound hope, despite the new task of digging for another eight years before them. Dantes finishes the scene with the line, “When do we start?” If you are using VHS, start the counter at the beginning of the Touchstone Pictures logo, the scene begins at approx. 37:41, which is in the middle of chapter 10 if you are on a DVD. It ends after Dantes’ closing line “When do we start?” at approximately 42:02.
PRIEST: Forgive my intrusion. But I was under the impression that I was digging toward the outer wall. Parlez-vous anglais? Italiano? I am Abbe Faria. I have been a prisoner in Chateau d’If for 11 years… five which have been spent digging this tunnel. (laughs)
DANTES: There are 72,519 stones in my walls. I’ve counted them many times.
PRIEST: But have you named them yet?
(DANTES begins sobbing)
PRIEST: Shh… Once I was as you are now. But I promise, it will pass. I promise, I promise. Now, may I stand on your shoulders?
(PRIEST stands on DANTES’ shoulders as he stares up at the clouds)
PRIEST:Take me down. Please, I beg you, take me down now. I have not seen the sky these 11 years. Thank you. Thank you, God.
DANTES: There is no talk of God in here, priest.
PRIEST: (pointing to inscription on the wall) What about the inscription?
DANTES: It’s faded, just as God has faded from my heart.
PRIEST: And what has replaced it?
PRIEST: (chuckles, then hands stones to DANTES) Hold these. Follow me. Perhaps your thoughts of revenge are serving God’s purpose of keeping you alive these seven years.
DANTES: To what end?
(the two crawl through the ground and wind up in the PRIEST’s cell)
DANTES: You spoke of escape.
PRIEST: Yeah. There are only two possibilities of reaching the outer wall and finally the sea. I simply—I simply chose the wrong one. Now, of course, with two of us, we could dig in the opposite direction. With both of us together, then, of course, we could possibly do it in, oh, eight years.
(DANTES begins to laugh)
PRIEST: Oh, does something else demand your time? Some pressing appointment perhaps? In return for your help, I offer something priceless.
DANTES: My freedom?
PRIEST: No, freedom can be taken away, as you well know. I offer knowledge, everything I have learned. I will teach you, oh, economics, mathematics, philosophy, science.
DANTES: (picking up book) To read and write?
PRIEST: Of course.
DANTES: When do we start?
It’s amazing how much difference a little hope can make in someone’s life. One amazing thing from this scene is that if you think about it, Dantes had only been in prison 7 years. And now he has eight more to go. But there’s a definite difference in his behavior between the way he is at the beginning of the scene and the way he is at the end. Let’s get into our small groups and go over some questions that talk about this hope.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- ASK A FEW: What do you think was Dantes’ focus on before the old man convinced him to help dig?
- ASK SOMEONE: What was Dantes’ mind on after the priest entered his cell?
- ASK A FEW: How did this change the way Dantes was acting?
- ASK A FEW: What was the priest’s hope in?
- ASK A FEW: Explain the difference in Dantes between the way he was at the beginning of the scene and the way he is at the end. Is there a difference in the way he talks? The way he looks? The things he says? etc…
- ASK A FEW: How does Dantes’ focus change his whole behavior, and how does it give him hope?
Let’s look at what the Bible says about our hope and our mindset in this life.
ASK A FEW: What are some things that people may put their hope in?
ASK SOMEONE: According to this passage, what should people keep their hope in? (a place God has prepared for them)
And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
ASK SOMEONE: Does it make sense to say that we are strangers? (temporary residents on earth)
ASK A FEW: How can this bring us hope in the world we now live in? (looking forward to the “heavenly” place God has for us)
ASK A FEW: How can having hope in your life actually change your life?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What are some things that are distracting your focus and stealing your hope?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What do you need to do in order to get rid of the distractions and keep your hope on what’s real? (If the typical “read my Bible” or “pray more” come up as answers, be sure to ask what specifically the students will do in order to achieve this. We need to get away from allowing the typical answers to become the right answers.)
Perhaps Dantes isn’t the only person who needs to keep his focus on a better place. In knowing that God has prepared an amazing place for us to be, we always have something to keep our focus on. This hope we have will change our lives, change our attitudes, change the ways we act, and all other aspects of our lives. Living a life of hope will make all other problems seem so much smaller, and will lead us to realize what is important – that God has prepared a home for us, and that our life here on Earth is only a waiting room. We must keep our focus. There are so many distractions out there, and sometimes life seems so difficult. But we must look away from those distractions and remember what our hope is in. Then we must hold to that hope. We must remember that as we hope for our future with God, God is not ashamed to be called our God, for he has prepared a city for us.
Written by Matt Furby