There is a scene near the climax of this film that stood out to me about the distorting nature of sin.
Setting The Scene
Jim (Rami Malek) and Sparma (Jared Leto) are standing in a dirt field. Sparma, the prime suspect, had offered to drive him (alone) to the location of the missing woman’s body. Jim, haggard from staying up all night, accepted.
After arriving at an empty field, Sparma plays “hot/cold” with Jim and tells him that he should start digging. Sparma then begins to question Jim’s ability to protect his wife and daughters. In response, Jim hits Sparma with the shovel, killing him. As he sits alone in the field, horrified at what he had done, Deacon (Denzel Washington) finally arrives.
Trying to justify himself, Jim begins saying, “It was him. That’s our boy. He as much as told me”. Deacon replies, “Nothing you can do about it now”, and tells Jim to put Sparma in a hole. He leaves to take care of Sparma’s apartment. Returning several hours later, he finds Jim surrounded by dozens of new holes. Sparma’s body remains out in the open.
After burying Sparma, Deacon gazes out on the now-filled holes. He turns to find Jim staring into space. Coaching him, Deacon says, “He’s dead. He’s forgotten. He’s rotting in the ground, and the only way he’s gonna come back is if you let him come back.”.
Where Are You?
This was the moment that stood out to me and reminded me of Genesis 3:8:
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
The God they had known from the beginning was looking for them. And they hid from Him.
Yes, Sparma is dead. Yes, he’s buried. And, yes, it’s unlikely that anyone would ever find his body in a hole “at least 4-feet deep” in the middle of nowhere. But he’s not forgotten. God knows exactly where our sin is, even when we bury it 4-feet deep. And our attempts at hiding it are laughable in contrast.
The closing scene of the movie shows Deacon having sent Jim a package containing a red barrette. This barrette was the same kind the missing woman had often worn. Jim appears relieved, now able to live without guilt. We then see Deacon burning all Sparma’s personal effects, including an empty container. (Context: Deacon had found this container hidden under the floorboards in Sparma’s apartment. The movie implied that it would’ve contained evidence of Sparma’s guilt, had he been the killer).
You could make parallels between Jesus’ saving work and Deacon’s “absolution” of Jim. But they’re fleeting when we leave the film, as we realize there isn’t any certainty in it. Was Sparma responsible? Did he commit the crimes, but avoid keeping any evidence? Or will the newly-commissioned FBI investigation find the real killer? In either case, Jim may have had his guilt assuaged, but the evidence of his crime is still out there. And it’s ready to come back to life at a moment’s notice.
The reality is that there is only one person who can actually absolve us of our sins: Christ.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
— Romans 6:7-11