Movie Clip Discussions

Wagering Eternity

Dynamic Image

(Sony Pictures, 2016)

Main Point: All of us are wagering eternity on something. If it’s not Jesus…it’s wrong.

The Movie Clip:
follows the journey of Roman tribune Clavius (played by Joseph Fiennes) as he searches out what happened to Jesus of Nazareth following His brutal execution and burial. The Roman soldier – who witnessed Jesus dead on the cross – is tasked with investigating the mystery that has all of Jerusalem (and Rome) up in arms. Eventually, Clavius comes face to face with the risen Jesus…and he must decide if what he’s seeing is true.

Risen was released before Easter of 2016 and garnered fairly strong reviews. The film was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intermittent scenes of graphic violence, namely the beating and crucifixion scenes. Otherwise, the film (and the clip this resource hinges on) is completely clean.

The movie uses characters, like Clavius, not expressly mentioned in the Bible’s writings, but stays completely true to the Bible’s message. The movie is a great tool for helping unbelievers process what they believe and why.

Introducing the Clip:
I want to introduce you to a character that has a lot in common with you and me…even though he’s fictional and lived 2,000 years ago. Clavius, a Roman soldier, has returned to Jerusalem from battle on the very day that Jesus was being crucified. Pontius Pilate, his boss, asked Clavius to oversee the crucifixion, but before he could get to the cross, Jesus died. Clavius noted that Jesus was dead, and allowed His body to be taken down by His followers. Three days later, Clavius would find himself at the center of the investigation trying to determine what had happened to the One people claimed was the Messiah. During the next few days, Clavius comes face to face with the risen Christ, and has to reconcile what he is seeing with what he believes about life and death. The clip we’re about to watch recounts a conversation that Clavius had with Jesus. Take a close listen to how Clavius responded when Jesus asked him what he feared.

Scene Script:


(The entire clip is a conversation between Clavius and Jesus. Though they discuss a couple different topics, here is the key dialogue excerpt for this small group discussion.)

Jesus: What frightens you?

Clavius: Being wrong…and wagering eternity on it.

Jesus: Well then, know Him.


Transitional Statement:
Can you imagine for a moment what it would be like if you could sit with the resurrected Jesus? Imagine what you could ask Him! Imagine what He would ask you! In the clip we just watched, Jesus asked Clavius a powerful question: What frightens you? I cannot imagine a better answer than the one Clavius gave: Being wrong…and wagering eternity on it. Guys, here’s the truth: All of us are wagering eternity on something or someone, and if it’s not Jesus…we’re wrong. I know that might sound narrow to some of you and foreign to others of you, but it’s still the truth. I want us to take a look at that statement from the context of Scripture so you can make your mind up for yourself.

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.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and something we’ve bet on in the past.

  2. ASK A FEW: Is there anyone brave enough to share the most important thing you’ve ever been wrong about? How did it feel?

  3. ASK A FEW: In the clip, Clavius said to Jesus he was afraid of “being wrong…and wagering eternity on it.” What did he mean by that?

  4. ASK A FEW: Eternity, or life after death, is a big topic. What do you think happens after we die?

  5. ASK A FEW: Can a person actually get prepared for eternity…or is it just a wild bet of some kind? How do you know?

  6. ASK A FEW: How does the Bible say we should prepare for eternity?

  7. Read the following passage:

      Luke 23:32-43 (NIV)

      Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals– one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

  8. ASK A FEW: What kind of person does this passage make Jesus out to be? In other words, after reading these verses, how would you describe Jesus?

  9. ASK A FEW: There were two criminals that were crucified with Jesus that day. How did their perceptions of Jesus differ?

  10. ASK A FEW: What do you think prompted the second criminal to put his trust and hope in Jesus?

  11. ASK A FEW: What did Jesus say was in store for the criminal’s eternity who put his hope and trust in Jesus?

  12. ASK A FEW: According to the Bible, what sort of eternity met the other criminal who “hurled insults” at Jesus? (Leaders – This is a tough point of Christianity, but a necessary one. According to plenty of teaching in Scripture, anyone who doesn’t put their total faith in Jesus is separated from God in Hell for all of eternity.)

  13. ASK A FEW: If you could speak with both of those criminals today, what do you think each of them would have to say? Do you think they’d both stick with their choice? Why or why not?

  14. ASK A FEW: Throughout our discussion, we’ve kept talking about this statement: “All of us are wagering eternity on something or someone. If it’s not Jesus, it’s wrong.” Why is Jesus the only right choice for eternity?

  15. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What’s your plan for eternity? How sure of it are you?

Wrap Up:
During our discussion, we watched a compelling video clip about a man who met the risen Jesus and had everything he thought about life turned upside down. Clavius, being a Roman, would have worshipped many different gods. He had a god of war, a god of the sea, a god of the sun, and so on. But what he could have never imagined was sitting down one evening and talking to the one, true God, Jesus…who’d died and risen to life again.

As Clavius’ faith in Jesus began to grow, he knew that he had to answer some big questions:

Are my gods worth anything in light of Jesus?
Can my gods do what He’s done?
Is it possible for a man to rise from the dead?
What’s the truth?
Where will I spend eternity?
Should I place my faith in Jesus…or something else?

We also read the story of Jesus’ death on the cross. We learned that there were two criminals who were crucified with Jesus that day, both guilty of some sort of serious crime. One of the unnamed criminals simply insulted Jesus, while the other unnamed criminal put his faith in Jesus. To reward his faith, Jesus told the second criminal, “This very day, you will be with me in Paradise.” In other words, “Hey, I’ve got your eternity taken care of.”

That second criminal made the choice to trust Jesus with his eternity. Ultimately, that’s what Clavius did, too.

What about you?

Clavius was worried about “wagering eternity…and being wrong.” Throughout our discussion, we’ve looked at God’s Word to see that Jesus is the only One with whom we can trust our eternity. My hope is that you’ll do what that second criminal and Clavius did: put your eternity in the hands of Jesus.

It means that you will have to turn your back on your current way of living. It means that you will have to get God’s forgiveness for your sin. It will also mean that your life now belongs to Jesus. But it will also mean that your eternity is secured in Him.

So, what’s it going to be? Will you completely secure your eternity in Jesus…or will you leave here just hoping you’ve made the right bet? The choice is yours. If you want to talk about this more, we’d love to speak with you after we close in prayer.

Close in Prayer

Written by David R Smith


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; 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 Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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