The Passion of the Christ

Yesterday evening my wife and I went to see this film with her sister and husband. The experience was both moving and disturbing. Needless to say, neither one of us slept very well last night.

I’m the kind of person that needs to process events like viewing this film. Frankly I avoid immediate discussions of such intense experiences. There’s a forest amidst the trees that I’m striving to discern, and at times it seems like post event comments and questions are stuck on one tree or even just a tree’s leaves–what’s the big picture? What’s the main point? What is supposed to be the lasting impression? That’s not to say that my approach is better or right; it’s just different.

Anyway, I felt compelled to stay home from church this morning so that I could seek some closure through personal Bible study. I read through each of the Gospels’ account of the final hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah (Matthew’s, Mark’s, Luke’s, John’s). Instead of finding discrepancies, I was actually surprised how closely the film followed the Bible–to the word even.

I was pleased that the film did not end at the cross but showed a risen Christ. Those familiar with the full Gospel accounts know that Jesus appeared in the flesh following His resurrection to many witnesses. It would have been powerful to see these interactions as part of the film, in a manner similar to Jesus’ recollections of past encounters (e.g. Last Supper, washing the feet or His disciples, etc.). I can only imagine what it would be like to see a friend absolutely die in front of me only to see him later appear to me fully alive.

This film is indeed violent and graphically so. However, I found its visualization of the Biblical account to be accurate and not at all gratuitous. Jesus Christ’s passion (i.e. His suffering) for me and for you was truly terrific. It was important for me to see the words of the Bible come to life in the film. I’m thankful that Mel Gibson had the courage to produce this film, and I appreciate his convictions in the process.

Easter Sunday will never be the same. Singing a number of familiar choruses on any given Sunday has new meaning for me now, too.

It’s hard to single out a single scene as the most touching, but I was most affected when Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross in the sight of His mother Mary, and Mary recalled a younger Jesus stumbling while running as playing children often do. Dropping everything, Mary ran to her young son’s aid: I’m here, Jesus. As the father of a young son, that season really resonated with me–I’d drop anything else to come to his aid. Yet, the present circumstances for her son were quite different. Mary was still there for her son, but Jesus was committed to His Father’s Will and there was no preventing the pain of His sacrifice. All so that I could be saved; so that anyone who calls Him Savior and Lord can be saved. Talk about amazing grace!

Apparently this film has affected a number of others in similar fashion.