This speech is iconic, one of the most widely know movie speeches of all times. The line "you can't handle the truth" is quote millions of times a day by people. Usually jokingly.
Now, before you watch this video, I must warn you that at the very end, Colonial Jessup (Jack Nickolson) uses a phrase that is offensive to Christians. You don't have to listen that far, or watch even.
But I think what he says just proves the point I'm about to make.
"You can't handle the truth."
1 John 1:8 (NASB) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Colonial Jessup makes a very valid point in this speech. Most people... most of us... can't handle the truth, or even want to know the truth about ourselves or about others.
We would sometimes just rather go along blindly believing that everything is ok.
Sure there are problems in the world, we are all well aware of that, but with ourselves specifically?
Not so much. We do ok. We don't murder, we don't steal, we give to charity, we go to church, we raise our kids to believe.
Truth is, the Bible says there isn't one of us that is truly good. Not one.
Jesus was the only one who walked this earth who was absolutely good and perfect in every way for his entire 33 years he lived.
We cannot measure up to that. Not ever.
So while we like to believe like Col. Jessup says, that we don't agree with what he does, or how he does it, truth is most of us would feel a little safer with someone like him guarding the walls in Cuba.
Tom Cruise's character says he wants the truth, but does he really?
Truth is, the truth is painful, uncomfortable and a little too revealing for people.
I have sinned in ways that would cause my friends to turn their backs on me if they knew.
I have known people guilty of appalling sins.
It's not something I talk openly about when I get together with friends over a cup of coffee.
Shocking. I know.
But as good Jack reminds us, sin is there...in all of our lives....it exists on a daily basis and most of us are unwilling to admit we know of it, or have committed it. We would rather turn a blind eye and enjoy our blissful ignorance and sometimes even enjoy the result of that sinful behavior regardless of how it happened.
So yes, Jack Nickolson takes the Lord's name in vain at the end of this speech, but really are we surprised? His character ordered the torture of a fellow marine under the guise of it being better for the unit as a whole. He defends his choice as being the right thing to do, even if it turned tragic.
If you look at Tom's face at the end of the speech, you can see it, just for a brief moment. He knows Jack is right. While his job was to get Col. Jessup to admit the truth, once it's out there is has made him uncomfortable. Why?
Because he knows deep down in those places we don't talk about at parties.....
He knows he's right.