Questions for Discussing Just Mercy With Students
Watching Just Mercy is not an easy, lighthearted afternoon’s entertainment, but it is well worth the energy to bring your teenagers along to see it. As an aside: you will want to be sure to see the movie at a time when you can process with your students afterwards. Head over to Rooted Parent today to see some reflections on Just Mercy and further resources. After you see it, here are some helpful questions to get the conversation going:
1. Several characters in the movie make reference to the fact that they live in Monroeville, Alabama, which is also the setting for Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill A Mockingbird. The novel is required reading in most school districts across the country, and many regard it as the finest American novel ever written.
Are their problems with how the novel is viewed in the movie?
What might you say to one of the characters who is so proud of that book?
2. At the end of the movie, when Stevenson and McMillan are testifying before Congress, Stevenson makes reference to the fact that every human being needs justice, and mercy, and grace.
In the movie, which characters extend grace?
How is that grace received?
What difference does grace make?
3. In Exodus 34, God describes Himself to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (v. 6-7). Over and over in His word we see that God is both just and merciful.
How does God give us mercy and justice?
Are these two things contradictory, or do they go hand-in-hand? Why or why not? Obviously, we like to think of God as merciful; can you also take comfort in God’s justice? How?
4. Bryan Stevenson is often quoted as saying, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Can you find Biblical support for this statement?
What does God say about who we are?
5. In an interview, Stevenson says he was raised to live by Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” He goes on to say that, “We have a lot of people who accept that doctrine. But when we try to implement it, fear and anger get in the way and we start doing things that are very extreme.”
How do fear and anger interfere with obeying God’s commands to do justice and love mercy?
What can be done about our fear and our anger?
Where do you see Stevenson’s humility in the movie?
What does it look like in your life today, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?