Patriot (Stay the Course)
Main Point: Even when our situation is bleak or sorrowful, we must continue to follow Jesus with all we have.
The Movie Clip:
In The Patriot, Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a father who after coming home a hero from the French and Indian conflict has decided to live a peaceful life with his family, giving up fighting forever. However, when the fighting between the colonies and the British army draws nearer to his home and one of his sons is killed, he quickly builds a militia to fight against the British. The movie is very well-written and has phenomenal acting. Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, and a couple other actors you’ll recognize make the movie great! Although quite violent and bloody in the battle sequences, it’s one that can be watched over and over.
Introducing the Clip:
The clip I’m about to show you comes from the movie The Patriot. In this scene, the movie’s hero, played by Mel Gibson, kneels over his son who has been wounded in battle during the American Revolution. This will be his second son to die in battle, at the hand of the same evil British officer. We’ll then get a chance to hear from a father who is weary of burying his sons. He is encouraged by his commanding officer to go on and continue fighting, but he’s not sure there is any reason to.
BEGIN CLIP AT 2 hours 9 minutes and 2 seconds (in Chapter 24)
In this clip, Benjamin rides up to a horrifying scene: his eldest son, Gabriel, has just been mortally wounded in a battle. As Benjamin leans over his son, they talk for a few moments. Gabriel apologizes for his role in his younger brother’s death. Benjamin tries to assure Gabriel that Thomas’ death was not his fault. When Gabriel hears these comforting words, he dies.
Benjamin then begins to cry and asks God for help to deal with the death of his second son.
The scene then cuts to the military encampment of Benjamin’s troops. He is inside a tent, praying over his dead son’s body. The colonel walks in and humbly offers to help Benjamin bury his son. They talk for a few minutes. It’s clear to the colonel that Benjamin wants to quit fighting; after all, the same British officer has now killed two of his sons. He implores Benjamin to “stay the course.”
Finally, Benjamin turns and says, “I have run my course.”
END CLIP AT 2 hours 13 minutes and 37 seconds
What a powerful moment, huh? On one hand, you say, “I get why he wants to quit fighting. After all, he’s lost two sons in this war!” Then, on the other hand, you wanna say to him, “But don’t stop now! You’re almost there! You’ve almost won!” Like Benjamin, we all come to that moment sooner or later when we’re following Jesus. We have made sacrifices and even experienced losses, and our situation has us on the brink of giving up. It’s in that moment that we must remember to stay the course.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and what was going through our minds when Benjamin’s son died.
- ASK A FEW: Knowing that Benjamin has now buried two of his sons, do you think he had the right to give up? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: The colonel told Benjamin to “stay the course” which is military-talk for “Get up, brush yourself off, and let’s go get em!” What would you have said to Benjamin to help him overcome his desire to quit?
- ASK A FEW: What could happen if he continues to fight? What will happen if he gives up? (Leaders – The point of this question is simple but important. If he continues to fight, he might win, he might lose, and he might even die. But if he gives up, his defeat is a guarantee.)
- ASK A FEW: Have you ever been in a situation, like Benjamin’s, where you’ve wanted to just give up?
Read the following passage:
Philippians 3:7-14 (NLT)
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Well, we’ve experienced quite a bit in our time together. We watched a fairly gripping scene about a man who was on the brink of giving up his fight because of his terrible losses. In the end, he soldiered on, continuing in his fight until he won it. And that was good for us: that fight won us our freedom!
Likewise, Jesus ran His race until its end. He came to Earth and preached to us, healed us, showed us His tremendous love, and even died on the cross for us. His race was the hardest any one person has ever run. But He ran it until He finished it. He didn’t ever stop. And that was good for us, too: because of Jesus, we have eternal life.
Finally, Paul finished his race. Given all he endured – beatings, ridicule, shipwreck, threats, and ultimately, his own death – he still carried on bravely because of his commitment to Jesus. Yep, you guessed it: that was good for us, as well. Because Paul ran his race with such boldness, we have the Word of God.
You must run your race, as well. I don’t know what’s on the line for you, but I promise you, it’ll be worth it to you to finish it. In fact, it might even be worth it to others who are counting on you.
In a moment, we’re going to close in prayer. I’ll pray for us as we go out into our week preparing to run the race for Jesus. But if you are in a moment like we saw from Benjamin’s life, hang back for a moment and speak to one of our adult leaders. We don’t want you to give up. We know what’s on the line and we want you to finish your race.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.