Prison Break and the marks of redemption


SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t finished all of Prison Break don’t read this post. I don’t want to ruin it for you!

I just finished watching all four seasons of Prison Break this week. It is the archetypical sacrifical hero story. Michael creates a brilliant plan to free his brother Lincoln from prison by becoming one of the prisoners. He has a gift for seeing the whole picture. He tatoos his plan on his entire body. A diverse collection of prisoners become involved in his plot and follow him to freedom.

Michael and Sara the prison doctor fall in love. Sara abandons her prison of addiction to follow Michael toward freedom as well. Over four seasons they find themselves escaping from a series of prisons and held captive in a variety of scenarios as they discover they are entangled in a conspiracy of powerful evil forces.

Their journey to freedom is obstructed by bureaucrats and the powerful, evil “Company.” The group of escapees eventually include former captors, betrayers, a murderous pedophile, and the man who killed Lincoln and Michael’s father before their very eyes. And, though every one does not take it, each is offered an opportunity for redemption which most of them receive.

Michael, Lincoln, his son, L. J., Sara, Sucre, and in the later seasons Mahone, form the primary group opposing the Company. Others move in and out of the group as helpers or betrayers, but these characters sacrifice for one another and force each other to remember their humanity under inhuman conditions. On different occasions each seems to try to avoid bloodshed or show mercy. Each is somehow called back by one of the others from vengeance and despair. Michael’s nature is basically hopeful and compassionate. When his plan results in deaths, Michael struggles with guilt, recognizing his plan is the cause.

The four seasons take the group through an intrigue of discovery about the The Company’s far-reaching threat. Each season holds captivity for some and circumstances that make it impossible for any of them to simply walk away. The only way they will be truly be free is to discover and reveal the truth about the Company.

Michael and Linc eventually learn that they are, in essence, born into this evil. Their parents worked for the Company. Their father died trying to escape its clutches and their mother has become the hubris, destruction, greed, and lies that the company represents.

Eventually Michael’s decision to defeat the Company jeopardizes his health and the life he might have had with Sara and their unborn son. While the guilt of the deaths he caused never seems to leave him, Michael becomes reconciled with the necessity of his own death to accomplish freedom for those he loves. I’m all for happily ever after but I don’t see how it could have ended any other way. The story is that Michael sacrifices so that those he loves can have freedom to live.

It occurred to me that much of my own journey with Christ has been like a series of prison breaks too. Escaping the prison of despair and anger eventually led to a season in the prison of legalism and fear. Even the freedom I enjoy in Christ right now does not completely disentangle me from the complications and influences that evil has on the world in which I live. Sometimes, knowing better, I wind up captive again and Jesus breaks me out of the prisons of my own making, and those that circumstances create. He bears the marks of His redemption plan on His body. He sees the big picture. He is always there in love and grace offering freedom and hope.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. – Luke 4:18


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