John Matthews (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) lives a good life; he’s remarried with a young daughter and his truck company is expanding its fleet. But then he gets the phone call that changes everything: his teenage son (Rafi Gavron) from his first marriage has been arrested for drug trafficking. Soon, his son is faced with a decision: serve ten years in prison or “snitch” on drug dealers he knows and reduce his sentence to one year in prison. But what if his son legitimately doesn’t know any drug dealers?
We know Matthews’ son isn’t guilty of what he’s accused of, but you can tell from the trailer that his father will take on his son’s obligation, and agree to turn over drug dealers to see his son freed. But in this “based on a true story” thriller, the feds aren’t always willing to follow through so quickly, and a truck-driving dad isn’t exactly an expert on how to meet drug dealers, set them up, and slip away quietly into the night.
The film itself is pretty good (especially in comparison to A Good Day To Die Hard…), and Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal is excellent as Matthews’ ex-con employee who helps him “get in the game.” But the theological implications of Matthews’ love for his son, degree of guilt notwithstanding, are striking.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son, where a disrespectful son takes half of his father’s possessions, runs away and misspends them, and then returns expecting to take his place as one of his father’s servants. Instead of vindictiveness, the father shows mercy. He embraces the son and takes him back, reinstating him as he was before he ever betrayed his father’s love.
Matthews’ love for his son puts him at risk. The father in the parable picks up his robes and runs to his son (a traditional no-no); reclaims him even after being insulted by his request and abandonment, even at the loss of half of his possessions (an inheritance before the person dies? Outlandish!). Snitch’s father figure is willing to break the law, risk his life, sacrifice the respect of others, put his company on the line, and more. All to rescue a son who broke the law and admittedly deserved to be punished.
But thanks be to God that Matthews wasn’t your average father. And thank goodness God isn’t either. God sacrificed himself, credibility, happiness, the life of Jesus, a sin-free life, everything to become one with us in our sin-riddled existence and die an awful death so that we, who deserved punishment, would receive eternal life instead. How amazing is that?
If more of us saw parenthood the way Matthews does in Snitch, more families would stay together, more children would thrive, and more communities would have an example of Christ’s self-sacrificing love. Quite the parable, indeed.
Originally published at Hollywood Jesus