The Passion of the Christ
February 29, 2004
"I really liked that movie," my seven-year-old told me as we left the theatre after viewing the "Passion of Jesus Christ." You should know that David is a discriminating movie-goer. He doesn't "do" Disney animations like "Finding Nemo" or "The Jungle Story." He did however see "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Spy Kids" three times each while they were still in the theatres.
I didn't know how my son would react to the Passion. I had seen it first, so I asked him to pull his baseball cap down over his eyes during the whipping scenes and the hammering of Christ's hands and feet to the cross. Otherwise, he watched and read the subtitles of the entire movie.
When the film ended, while we were still seated, he said he would like to see a sequel. Now, from a seven-year-old, that tells me the story of Jesus interested him as much as the "Spy Kids" and it's sequels -- and he was anxious to see more of this story.
I had commented on-air about the so-called brutality of the movie, and that I had some concerns about whether or not over the years I had become desensitized. In fact, I wondered if The the Passion I had seen was the same that has been criticized by so many for so long. Sure, I winced during the gruesome scenes, but I was not -- in any way -- disturbed by them.
I had decided that my reaction was due to the fact that I have, in the last twenty odd years since I've had what I would call "a personal relationship with Christ," been on my knees with gratitude for what Jesus has done for me. I had been taught through great sermons and personal devotions that Christ was wounded for my transgressions. I knew what he endured for all mankind. So, for me, there was no shock. I only thought, "Yeah, that's how I figured it went down."
The film also reminded me of how much I fall short in my walk with Christ, and how much he deserves a more dedicated child. And so I was encouraged to dedicate a little more of my efforts towards walking a holy walk. I don't believe I've ever exited a movie theatre thinking that before.
I was touched to my very core during the scenes where Mary flashes back to a much younger Jesus, who falls. She runs to pick him up and comfort him. Who among us with children could not relate to Mary as she watches her son endure such horrors? And while she is aware that Jesus is the Son of God -- she struggles with his pain and imminent death -- as he was, after all, also her son and under her charge on earth.
The critics would have you believe there is an anti-Semitic sentiment to the movie -- that Jews are to blame for Jesus's crucifixion. But Jesus himself is quoted as saying in the New Testament and in the film to Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." This was fulfillment of prophecy, it is what was meant to be. John wrote in his gospel,; "Pilate said, take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." "But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. This happened, John writes, so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
If it had happened in any other way, scripture could not have been fulfilled and we would not have a plan of salvation. Plain and simple; Pilate and Caiaphas were only instruments that God used to execute that plan.
In John, Chapter 14, Jesus comforts his disciples:; "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?"
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."
This story -- His story -- leads the way to Go.