Schindler's List (power/forgiveness)
Main Point of Discussion: One of the greatest powers in the world is the ability to forgive.
The Movie Clip: “Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don't.”
A great scene where Oscar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) sits with the heinous German prison camp leader, Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes). They have a conversation about power. Amon conveys his respect for Schindler because he doesn't get drunk. He states that getting drunk limits a person's control and control is power. Schindler then goes on to say that real power and control is to pardon or forgive.
Introducing the Clip:
Today I want to show you a clip from the movie Schindler’s List. It is a dramatized account of the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.
BEGIN CLIP AT 1 HOUR 44 MINUTES and 18 SECONDS or this clip is available to download and purchase from WingClips (as seen in the embedded video clip above).
NOTE: In the few seconds RIGHT BEFORE this mark, Amon Goeth’s character uses the F word. Be very careful in setting your timer!
Schindler: They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That's not power, though, that's justice. That's different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don't.
Goeth: You think that's power.
Schindler: That's what the emperors had. A man stole something, he's brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he's going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.
Goeth: I think you are drunk.
Schindler: That's power, Amon. That is power.
(Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.
Goeth: (He smiles and laughs) I pardon you. END CLIP AT 1 HOUR 45 MINUTES and 49 SECONDS
In this scene there’s an obvious difference between the men’s views about power and control. Goeth thinks power is in the act of exerting force, whereas Schindler believes true power lies in the ability to exercise forgiveness and mercy.
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: Before we begin, tell everyone your name and who are some of the heroes you had growing up.
- ASK A FEW: Were these people heroes because they were powerful? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: In the scene we just saw, it was obvious that there is a difference in the worldview of each man in terms of what defines power. How would you define power?
- ASK A FEW: Do you agree with Schindler or Goeth? Why?
- ASK A FEW: Where is the ‘power’ in showing mercy?
Read the following passage:
- John 19:1-11 (NLT)
1. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. 2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. 3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” 5 Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!”
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”
7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. 9 He took Jesus back into the headquarters[a] again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. 10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”
11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Tonight we’ve been comparing and contrasting differing views on power and control. The world tells us that power lies in controlling others and taking revenge when we are hurt. But Jesus showed us the true meaning of power when He willingly let Himself be crucified so He could offer us mercy and forgiveness. Because of that, He also wants us to extend forgiveness to others, which is how we demonstrate true power. As Mahatma Gandhi once said: 'The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.'
Let’s bow our heads so we can think about ourselves and not those around us. As you sit there with your eyes closed and your head bowed, I want you to think about whether or not God is calling you to forgive someone. Picture that person in your mind right now, and ask God to give you the power to forgive that person and show mercy towards him or her. I’ll give you a few moments to do this.
If you would like to talk about this more, just ask one of our adult leaders for some help. We would love to walk through this important event with you.
Close in Prayer
By Lane Palmer
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 TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.