In Alexandre Dumas’s novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes is about to marry his beautiful beloved Mercedes. On the night before he is to be married, Dantes is falsely accused by one man who wants his woman, and another who wants his job. It so happens that the judge is implicated in the circumstances, in response to which he sentences Dantes to life in prison without trial.
While imprisoned for 14 years, Dantes is befriended and instructed by Abbe Faria. Faria also tells Dantes of a treasure hidden on the isle of Monte Cristo. Faria dies, and Dantes becomes the only prisoner ever to escape from the prison of Château d’If.
Dantes goes to the island of Monte Cristo, finds the treasure, and plots vengeance, astonishingly elaborate in its detail and poetic justice. The justice that Dantes accomplishes is so perfect and so complete and so elaborate that if we do not willingly suspend our disbelief, if we back away from the fictional dream, we begin to question whether this is credible. Could a man pull this off?
An innocent man, falsely accused, taken from his betrothed the night before their wedding, and unjustly imprisoned for 14 long years.
The world needs justice. Who can give perfect justice?
The world needs redemption. Who can give perfect redemption?
Can we have justice and redemption?
In Mark 14:1–25, we see Jesus bring to fulfillment an astonishingly elaborate plot that upholds justice and accomplishes redemption. On Sunday, June 26, 2011, it was my privilege to preach this text at Kenwood Baptist Church.
The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes, achieved a limited, human justice. He ruined the lives of those who ruined his life. He even forgave one mortal enemy who repented of his sin and plead for forgiveness. Dantes could not, however, win back Mercedes. While he was imprisoned, she married another, one of those who falsely accused Dantes. Dantes takes vengeance on the man, but he cannot redeem his lost bride.
Jesus is a better avenger and a better redeemer than Edmund Dantes. No real man could take the vengeance Dantes accomplishes. Only a fictional hero could pull it off. Jesus achieves a perfect justice, and Jesus doesn’t lose his bride. Jesus will redeem all those who belong to him. Jesus will never fail you.
This hyperlinked title of my sermon on Mark 14:1–25 will take you to the audio file: “Justice and Mercy Planned by Jesus and the Count of Monte Cristo.”