Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

"Invictus": The Power of Forgiveness

Invictus (2009) tells the story of how Nelson Mandela (portrayed by Morgan Freeman), in his first term as the president of South Africa, showed unconditional support and enthusiasm for the nation's mostly white rugby team in an effort to bring about reconciliation in an apartheid-torn land. But in one scene early in the film, we learn that Mandela's efforts at racial reconciliation did not stop with the rugby team. He sought opportunities for reconciliation at every turn—even in the way he put together his security team.

As this scene begins, we see five black men sitting in a small office. They comprise Mandela's security team. The leader of the team, Jason Tshabalala, says, "We need more men."

Another man asks, "Did you talk to Brenda about it?" [Brenda is Mandela's Chief of Staff.]

"Yes," Jason replies. "Yesterday."

There is a knock at the door.

Thinking it must be a secretary with the president's agenda for the day, Jason says, "Ah! That must be Jessie with the schedule. Come in, beautiful!" To the team's surprise, four white men dressed in suits enter the room.

Alarmed, Jason says, "What's this?"

"Mr. Jason Tshabalala?" one of the men says.

"That's me," Jason replies. "Am I under arrest?"

"Captain Feyder and team reporting for duty, sir."

"What duty?" Jason says.

"We're the presidential bodyguard," the man replies. "We've been assigned to this office." The man reaches into his jacket and takes out a sheet of paper. "Here are our orders."

Jason takes the sheet and scans it quickly. "You're Special Branch, right?" [During Apartheid, the Special Branch of the South African police forces was a unit designed to suppress any movements that resisted apartheid.]

Captain Feyder nods, confirming Jason's suspicions before quickly referencing once more the papers in Jason's hands: "You'll see that they've been signed."

"Well, I don't care if they are signed," Jason says. "Just wait here."

Jason exits the room and the scene shifts to a secretary opening a door for Jason that leads into Mandela's office. Mandela is seated at his desk.

"Sorry to disturb you, sir," Jason says.

"You look agitated, Jason," Mandela says.

"That's because there are four Special Branch cops in my office."

"Oh? What did you do?" Mandela says.

"Nothing," Jason replies. "They say they are presidential bodyguards, and they have orders signed by you."

Jason hands the papers to Mandela.

"Ah, yes," Mandela says. "Well, these men have special training. They have lots of experience. They protected de Klerk." [F. W. de Klerk was the last president of apartheid-era South Africa.]

"Yes," Jason says, "but it doesn't mean that they have to—."

"You asked for more men, didn't you?" Mandela says, cutting Jason's comments short.

"Yes, sir," Jason says. "I asked—"

Mandela cuts him off again, saying, "When people see me in public, they see my bodyguards. You represent me directly. The rainbow nation starts here. Reconciliation starts here."

"Reconciliation, sir?"

"Yes, reconciliation, Jason."

"Comrade President," Jason says, "not long ago, these guys tried to kill us. Maybe even these four guys in my office tried. And they often succeeded."

"Yes, I know," Mandela calmly replies. "Forgiveness starts here, too. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon. Please, Jason, try."

Elapsed time: DVD, scene 4, 00:12:13 - 00:14:38

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Eating the Seed

When Beth Moore and her husband, Keith, spent time in war-torn Angola to draw attention to tens of thousands of malnourished people, they were changed forever. "I learned something ...

[Read More]

A Powerful Story of Forgiveness from South Africa

Desmond Tutu is a bishop in South Africa who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against apartheid. In his book No Future Without Forgiveness, he shares stories and insights from ...

[Read More]