This past Sunday, Andrea and I watched the Will Smith movie, “Seven Pounds,” while Abbie took her afternoon nap. It wasn’t a movie I particularly wanted to watch, but I was intrigued by it’s storyine, especially since we are in the midst of Holy Week leading up to Easter.
**Stop reading here if you’ve not seen the movie**
The basic premise of Seven Pounds is this: Will Smith’s character (Ben/Tim) was part of an accident that killed seven people, including his fiance. Ben feels responsible for the accident and is living with the guilt he feels. He begins to offer random people gifts that only he can give. To one woman, a social worker, he gives part of his liver. To someone else, a lung. He gives a mother and 2 children his beachfront home as they begin a new life together after escaping an abusive boyfriend.
Ben meets a woman named Emily who has Congestive Heart Failure. She has been placed on an organ donor list, but because of her rare blood type, the docter tells Ben there is only a 3-5% chance that she will receive the heart in time. As Ben begins helping her out in little ways and they end up falling in love with each other. At the same time, Ben contacts a man named Ezra who is blind, yet gifted at the piano and stuck in a deadend job. It is here that we begin to see Ben’s intentions.
The gift that Ben gives requires that he give up his own life. Ben ultimately commits suicide in a way that his organs can be harvested and Emily and Ezra are given a new lease on life. The movie ends with Emily staring into Ezra’s eyes, knowing that they are they eyes of the man she loves and the of the one who gave up his life so the she might live.
This was, again, and interesting movie to watch as we prepare to celebrate Good Friday and Easter…where God sent His Son Jesus into the world to die so that we might live. It is certainly a fresh way to look at the idea of giving up one’s life so that others might live. Jesus said in John 15:13 that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” It is very clear in the movie that Ben was moved towards love to give his heart to Emily.
I wonder what initially motivated Will Smith’s character to give himself away as a gift? Was it out of shame or guilt from feeling responsible for his fiance’s and 6 others’ death?
I believe that he was seeking penance what happened the night of the accident. Penance is, as Webster’s puts it, an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin. Will Smith’s character’s action resulted in the death of seven people…and his character gave the gift of life to seven people as an act of penance. While this act may have began out of guilt, by the end of the movie he is motivated by love.
While this is not a exhaustive look at the movie Seven Pounds, this may create some great discussion for you and those you watch the movie with. This is certainly a postmodern parable that we can relate to the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. If you’ve not seen the movie, this is a great week to rent it and watch it as we consider the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us so that we might experience life abundant!