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“The Passion of the Christ” – A Review

Undeniably uncomfortable, but you need to see The Passion.

If you haven’t done so yet you need to see Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.”

It will reinvigorate your faith and give you a much better understanding of the sufferings that Jesus went through to accomplish redemption for you and for me.

Don’t stay away from the movie because you’ve heard that it’s anti-Semitic. It isn’t. However, as one reviewer commented, it is “rabidly anti-Sanhedrin – opposed as Jesus and the other Jews were, to the Establishment of the time.”

Don’t stay away from “The Passion” because you’ve heard that it’s violent. It is – radically so. But it’s not gratuitous violence. It’s there for a reason. As someone said, Gibson opposes the “feel good complacency of modern Christianity.” Isn’t that a good thing? With the perverted image that many people today have of modern Christianity as being nothing more than celestial get rich scheme with all of its followers spared any earthly suffering or discontent, we need Gibson’s “Passion” to return us to the very roots of our faith.

I don’t think that Gibson would say “The Passion” is a fully rounded treatment of the normal Christian experience. To the contrary. It is, however, an indepth look at the last 12 or so hours of our Savior’s life which in our comfortable existence we many times choose to gloss over. We do so at our peril, because when we ignore the pain and agony of our Savior and choose not to meditate on it, we end up with that weak, anemic faith which appears to prevail in our nation today.

“The Passion” will have a never-to-be forgotten effect on all those who have the fortune to see it. In my 28-plus years of being a born-again believer I have never woken up thinking about and picturing the sufferings of Jesus. The day after seeing “The Passion,” I did just that. The experience was not at all unpleasant or ghoulish. Quite to the contrary. It awakened in me a renewed appreciation as to what Jesus had to endure to secure my redemption and left me feeling profoundly grateful for His sacrifice.

Others at the showing which I attended were also deeply touched. One woman sitting close to me in the theater was softly praying through her tears, “Thank You, Jesus. Thank You Jesus for what You’ve done for me.”

That notwithstanding, the violence was difficult to watch – as were the delighted faces of Jesus’ tormenters when they were scourging Him and taking such evident pleasure in their work. But I didn’t go to see “The Passion” for enjoyment. I went because I felt I needed to do so. If the violence is making you hesitate about going to see the movie, read what Barbara Nicolosi (www.saintaustinreview.com/passionissue.html) so eloquently wrote.

“Several devout Christians have noted to me that they will be staying away from ‘The Passion of the Christ’ because of the violent images. I hear from them things like, ‘Violent images on screen get stuck in my head’ and ‘screen violence is just too disturbing to me.’ I understand this. I have never been able to purge from my mind some of the terrible torture scenes I have been exposed to in films like ‘Romero,’ ‘The English Patient’ and ‘The Fixer.’ And yet, those films amount to powerful indictments of real evils, in the civil war in El Salvador, from the Nazis, and in the Mob. These are evils that caused immeasurable human suffering. If others had to live it, through no fault of their own, isn’t there something just in me having to watch it, especially from the relatively easy life I live, through no particular merit of my own? … Being disturbed out of complacency and into a solidarity with others’ suffering is a good thing. It is undeniably an uncomfortable thing. But so are flu-shots (and) exercising … Doing these things is part of being a grown-up. Comfort is a luxury that most of us can ill afford in this short life. As an elderly Italian nun once quipped to me when I asked when she would retire from her labors, ‘In heaven, we will rest.'”

I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and go see “The Passion.” As we’ve already established it’s not a feel-good, escapist movie but it is one which as a grown up you need to see nevertheless. Pray that the Lord will speak to you through it and change your life. Look at what Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus in “The Passion,” told the “700 Club’s” Scott Ross about how profoundly the movie affected him.

“There are things that I went through that I can’t even talk about. I felt like a great presence came within me at times when we were filming. This prayer that came from me was, ‘I don’t want people to see me. I just want them to see Jesus. And through that conversions will happen.’ That’s what I wanted more than anything, that people would have a visceral effect to finally make a decision whether to follow Him or not” (www.cbn.com/700club/features/ScottRoss-Jim_Caviezel_1.asp)

Caviezel added, “I believe I was called to play this role. When I look out to all my fellow Americans and people in the world, I say to them I want you to do this in the public and shamelessly express your faith in public. That’s what I’ve done here, and I can rest as it is. I don’t know where it’s going, but if it doesn’t turn out where I’m continually working, I’m still an actor. I’ll always be one, whether I get another job or not. I fulfilled my mission right now. I felt what I was right now. That was my opportunity, and I would have done it again.” (www.cbn.com/700club/features/ScottRoss-Jim_Caviezel_2.asp)

“Time” magazine columnist David Van Biema just didn’t get it, writing in a recent edition of the magazine that the movie is “a one-note threnody about the Son of God being dragged to His death.”

He continued, “That may be just the ticket for some times and for some benighted places where understanding human torment in terms of God’s love is the only religious insight of any use. But in a culture as rich, as powerful, as lucky and open-minded as ours-one might even say as blessed-it is, or should be, a very bad fit indeed.”

As distasteful as “The Passion” is to Van Biema, the movie really is “just the ticket” not just for some times, but for our time. While as Van Biema correctly writes the Christian experience does indeed include (among other things) joy, astonishment, mystery and prophecy as well as love sacrificial – it DOES include love sacrificial. It’s because of the sacrificial love that we can experience the joy and astonishment. However, in our rush to focus in on the aesthetically pleasing – the Christian “goodies – we’ve ignored to a very large extent what it took to being them to us: the suffering of the Cross. Gibson’s “Passion” is a needed catalyst to help restore us to a more balanced perspective on our faith. Please go see it while you have the opportunity.

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