(Originally written February 26, 2004)
I saw Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" yesterday. I know who killed Jesus. I did.
Of course I knew that before seeing Mel's movie because I have read the Bible. Yet, I must say that seeing this movie - a choreograph of pain about Christ's torture before and on the cross - has definitely expanded the dimensions of my understanding and appreciation for what it took for Jesus to choose to die as He did for my sins. Never before has a movie moved me to the point where my neck was wet with tears. Yet, please don't think it was the raw violence that brought those tears - as if the intensity of the movie overwhelmed my body. No, it was other things that moved me the most powerfully; things which I prefer remain private between me and Jesus for now.
Having now watched the movie, I am finding it most interesting to hear and read other's reviews and reactions to it. Christians seem to have one of two reactions. Many are reporting having been touched by the graphic display of Christ's suffering. Others feel that depiction was too violent and wish for more of the teachings of Jesus as seen in some of the few flashbacks that are in the movie. If you go to see this movie, and I recommend you do, expect to witness brutality, violence, and torture without any commercial break. When people went to see the movie "Titanic" they all knew a great ship was going to hit an iceberg and sink - it did. If you go to this movie, you will see a Savior tortured and then nailed to a cross - He was.
If anything, the crucifixion of Christ was actually more horrible than Gibson has displayed in his film. The victims of crucifixion would not be given the dignity of hanging on the cross with their privates politely covered. In Mel Gibson's movie, Jesus still looks quite a bit like a man at the end of it all. Yet Isaiah prophesied the following about Jesus on the cross, "Just as there were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness--so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand." (Isaiah 52:14&15)
Generally, amongst moviegoers who do not have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, reaction to "The Passion" so far seems to remain consistent with their pre-viewing worldview - only with a greater vigor. Those who steadfastly see no need in their life for forgiveness for sin feel that there is no purpose to a violent movie solely about the torture of a man. Jewish people are not leaving theatres saying, "Oh now I see Jesus is the Messiah". White supremacists and racists will use this movie to fan their flames of anti-Semitism. As is true in many things of life - and especially of faith - such people need to be careful they don't cut themselves on the axe they are constantly grinding.
Two thousand years after the first coming of Jesus, society is once again faced with the question of what to do with Him - believe, reject, deny, or use for personal gain and protection of self-enterprise and tradition.
The spiritual battle of good vs. evil for the hearts of men, women, and children - seemingly veiled from most people's eyes for at least a generation - has broken out of the ring and into the crowd who is watching.
Pastor Tim Davis, Copyright 2004
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