Folded up in my purse are a few sheets of notepaper I took to the theater with me. I wanted to be able to write down notes immediately after seeing The Passion of the Christ. Those sheets of paper remain blank even now, yet the impact of the movie was great. I've been trying to put into words exactly how I felt after the last credit rolled, but I'm still not finding those right words.
We all know the story and have heard many recounts of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ does seem to take some dramatic license while still being true to the message. This account was intense, and more graphic and brutal in nature than any I've seen. For me the scourging scene was very tough to watch, and I was unsuccessful at viewing it dry-eyed. It was extreme. Too extreme? I don't know. During the crucifixion the two thieves on either side of Jesus very notably hadn't endured such scourging. My interpretation of this - Jesus excessively wounded and bloody, while the other two sustained only a few wounds - is that the two criminals were being killed for their own sins, for their own personal wrongdoings. Jesus died for all our sins. Perhaps this visualization is a representation of that reality.
I kept thinking about the hymn, Were You There and the line, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" While, obviously, no one alive today was there or can know exactly what happened down to every single little detail, I think this film gives us a chance to experience to some degree what it might have been like to be present during this horrifying, brutal, sorrowful yet awesome, amazing, unconditional love filled monumental moment in history.
There was so much uproar about this movie having an anti-Semitic tone to it. I never, not once, got that impression. Jesus was Jewish, and yes he was taken to Pilate by Jewish leaders, but the Romans were no better in their treatment of him. In one review I read the author commented on the vast number of people in the crowd who demanded Jesus be crucified. He made a case that this might not be accurate for the time and place. Perhaps the grand crowd again represents all of us. Because of our sins, we all are responsible for Jesus' death. In that sense, we all crucified him. This could be a dramatic way to interpret that.
Throughout the film we are given short flashbacks into Jesus' life and ministry. I found myself wanting more of these. I think, in part, to escape from seeing Christ beaten, tortured and put to death in such an excruciating manner. But the pain of watching the scourging, mocking, beating and crucifixion can in no way compare to the suffering and pain Jesus endured. All in the name of love. All for us.
During a parish mission I once attended a priest said that Jesus could have snapped his fingers to forgive our sins if he wanted to do so. But instead he chose to die for us. He decided to lay down his (earthly) life for us and impact us in a way to never be forgotten. Through his great, undying love we can have eternal life.
That very message - Jesus loves us so much that he died for us, so that we might enjoy eternal life - is the ultimate message of this film as well.
I think Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is worth seeing. But, please keep in mind, this film is rated R and due to its graphic nature is not suitable for children.
Teach children about the Passion of Christ withThe Living Gospel - an animated interactive storybook CD about the life of Jesus.
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman