Movie stirs Passions
We are all responsible
"If ever I loved thee, my Jesus 'tis now."
As I walked out of the theatre where I experienced The Passion of the Christ, I found myself somberly singing that line from a song I first heard two decades ago and whose origin I do not know.
It was the first time, however, that the words I sang were fully true. Sure, I have loved Jesus deeply for 20 years, but never more than now.
Mel Gibson's moving and controversial film forced me to fully contemplate -- drink in, if you will -- the enormity behind the brutal sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross for me.
Ever since I first came to faith 20 years ago, I have preferred to focus more on the miracle-maker Christ and the resurrected Christ, His awesome power and the fact that He is very much alive and very much a real friend and part of my life.
After all, it was that resurrection power that so transformed my life and helped me quit so much of the destructive behaviour I once embraced.
Mel Gibson's moving and controversial film about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life was often excruciating to watch. I found myself frequently drawing my knees to my chest in a visceral response to His pain. Oh, the sadistic brutality of the Roman guards! How could they do this to Him? I asked myself. But over and over again I kept remembering that I was responsible for those last 12 hours.
As Gibson said to the Wall Street Journal: "Looking at Christ's crucifixion, I look first at my own culpability in that." At a part in the movie that takes strength not to turn away from -- the scene where Jesus' healing hands are nailed to the cross -- the hands of the unseen soldier hammering the nails are Gibson's own.
By that gesture, Gibson is saying, "I nailed him there." As did I. Jesus died that horrible and most cruel of deaths in order to pay the penalty of my sin, Gibson's sin and yours too.
It was the ultimate act of love. But the Son of God didn't just die a horrible death. Christ also felt the pain caused by every sin ever committed, past, present and future while on that cross and for the first time ever in eternity He was separated from the Father -- whom He is one with. Christ's physical pain goes beyond anything any of us will ever experience, but it was the emotional pain that was the most difficult.
Most of the controversy about this film has been based on the accusations that this film is anti-Semitic. I simply didn't see it and I looked for it -- even anticipated it.
Yes, Jewish high priests orchestrated the arrest of Jesus, called for His crucifixion and egged on a fickle mob, so like mobs of today. That is a historical fact. And yes, morons seeking justification of their hatred of "others" have historically persecuted Jews for being "Christ killers."
But how come nobody mentions that the only people who showed Jesus any true love and compassion during the last hours of His life were also Jews? Has everyone forgotten that Jesus Himself is a Jew, that His mother Mary was a Jew. That Peter and John were Jews, as was Mary Magdalene?
If any group of people were portrayed to look evil, it was the Roman soldiers. Their brutality is sickening. I have family in Rome. Do I feel more culpable for Jesus' death than say a Russian or Indian? No. But I know that if I were the only person on earth, Christ would have taken my place on the cross.
Some 400 years ago, the Dutch painter, Rembrandt painted The Raising of the Cross, which depicts Christ hanging on the cross as it's being lifted into place. The soldier pulling it up is Rembrandt himself. Rembrandt gets it. So does Gibson.
Jews are not to blame. Romans are not to blame. Not exclusively anyway. We all are. That's the point. We are forgiven our sins because of Christ's passion for us. All we have to do is accept that gift that cost Him so much and cost us nothing.
The Passion of The Christ is more than a movie. It is a travel back in time to the most pivotal event of human history. It is all at once brutal and tender, upsetting and uplifting. It is a must see.
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
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