J.J. Sefton is suspect.
He is an American prisoner of war among others portrayed in the hit World War II film “Stalag 17”. However, the other men in his barracks don’t trust him.
For one, Sefton is too cozy with their German captors. He runs a bartering business with the guards so as to make his own stay in the camp more comfortable.
Furthermore, when the Allied soldiers plan escapes, Sefton tells his comrades how foolish they are. Why not just wait out the war, which seems to be coming to a close, and stay alive? Never mind that a soldier’s duty is to escape if possible.
Sefton doesn’t have the best personality either. He is a cynic and has little love for his fellow internees.
One night, when two prisoners emerge from a tunnel dug by the men, they are cut down by waiting German machine gunners. It is clear the stalag commanders had advanced knowledge of the escape plan.
To the POWs it’s a cinch where they got the information. They figure Sefton informed on the escapees.
A couple of other events confirm the suspicions in their minds. When a hidden radio is discovered in the barracks, and Sefton is allowed into the woman’s area of the camp, the inmates are certain that the man has been rewarded by the Germans. He’s definitely a stoolie in their estimation.
Then Dunbar, a newly arrived officer, is taken away from the barracks and tortured. The Germans believe he is guilty of blowing up an ammunition train before he arrived at the camp.When this happens, Sefton’s bunkmates pummel him and beat him because they believe he has told the enemy of the officer’s guilt.
But then the worm turns for the forlorn Sefton. He discovers who the real informant is by hiding in the barracks while everyone else is gone.
While standing in the shadows, Sefton sees Allied security officer Price speaking German with Schulz, the camp sergeant. He exposes Price, a German spy, to his comrades.
Sefton further restores his reputation by volunteering to lead Dunbar out of the camp after the other prisoners free him through an elaborate deception plan.
A proverb from the Roman fabulist Phaedrus is worth noting at this point. He wrote: “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.”
This principle surely was borne out in the story of Sefton and the men of Stalag 17. It is worthy of consideration in our own lives as well.
How many times have we been angered or saddened or confused by the behavior of others without knowing all the facts.?
For example, we get upset when a friend doesn’t Email or text us for a time. Instead of trying to ascertain the truth, we surmise that they are ignoring us. We then are hurt because we begin think that perhaps we aren’t as important to them as we thought.
Then we find out that they have been sick, or a loved one has died. As a result, we feel embarrassed.
We’re also easy prey to the scams of this modern world. I became aware today of a phony enterprise in which callers inform poor saps on the other end of the line that they are being given a chance to pay off their debt to the Internal Revenue Service.
The caller tells them that if they don’t pay that the authorities are nearby and will come to arrest them. They are directed to buy gift cards from an online company to use to pay off what they owe.
Surprisingly, a number are falling for this swindle.
Probably the greatest fraud ever perpetrated was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The authorities of the day suspected him of being a man who intended to usurp their earthly thrones.
Yet, Jesus had no such plan. He said to his enemies, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
However, the rulers of the day did not believe Jesus. Sefton’s punishment was minor compared to the one Jesus endured. His fellow man tortured him and forced him to endure an excruciating execution because they were threatened by Him.
Little did they know that Jesus was God and that He humbled Himself, became a man, and voluntarily died to take the rap for the punishment they deserved. Further, Jesus rose from the dead and His followers were charged with telling the world of the offer of a new life in Christ.
The Bible says this was the consequence of Jesus’s heroism :
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus has an enemy who doesn’t like this state of affairs. The fallen being known as Satan, who orchestrated Jesus’s death to begin with seeks to continue to deceive the world of the truth in our day.
Even believers in Jesus doubt His love and care when things don’t appear to be going their way in life. Yet the wise among us would do well to heed the words of the rest of the quote from the ancient Roman Phaedrus. He wrote:
“The intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
Despite circumstances, those who love Jesus can be assured that He is working all things together for their good. For those who don’t, He is calling them to trust Him.
The doubter ought to follow one group of folks who lived in the days following Jesus’s death and resurrection. According to the Bible, when the Apostle Paul told them of them of Jesus’s work and His offer of salvation, the Bereans of Greece “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The intelligent among us would do well to shake off the deceptions of our time and do what the Bereans did.