Ok, I get it, the title of this blog sounds kind of selfish. It isn’t meant to be at all. It simply is what it is. Since 2005, I have taken time during Easter week and watched Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by myself. It is a time of reflection for me. It is a time to remember the horrors that Christ suffered at the hands of humanity for the sole purpose of redeeming that same human race. I watch by myself, because after seeing the film in theaters, my wife decided that she didn’t want to see it again and I respect that. It’s tough to watch. My children are still too young (9 and 6) to watch this film, but I do anxiously await the first time that I am able to sit down with each one of them and show them this film.
You may say, ‘But Chris, it’s just a movie. It’s Hollywood. What’s the big deal about this film?’ To explain that to you, I need to go back and revisit the night that Beth and I had the opportunity to see this film in theaters. We knew that we weren’t just going to see another movie, but we found ourselves treating it as such. We got our snacks and drinks and went into the theater to see a film. Within five minutes of the film beginning, I don’t think I took another sip of my drink and I know for sure that I didn’t eat any of my candy.
I had seen all of the paintings and images about Christ’s suffering. You know the ones. A few drops of blood dripping from the hands and feet of Jesus, blood trickling down His face from the crown of thorns, what appear to be a few small cuts on His back from the scourging, and a small gash in His side from the centurion’s spear. These images are almost beautiful and for me, that is where the problem was. Of course in my mind, I knew that these images of Christian/Catholic iconography couldn’t possibly tell the story of what really happened. Consequently, I had inadvertently and unintentionally forgotten just how much Jesus suffered.
This film changed all of that for me. It is the most difficult two hours of film for me to sit through to this day and I want it to stay that way. I want to be uncomfortable as I watch the portrayal of Christ’s final hours. I want to remind myself that what takes me 2 hours to watch on screen was roughly 18-24 hours of constant torture and agony for the Son of God. I was wrecked after I saw this film. Is it graphic? Without a doubt. Is it too graphic? That can be debated. What I know is that for the first time in Hollywood’s history, a film was out that gave us a glimpse of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for all sin.
The graphic nature of this film is what makes it difficult to watch, but there are some moments that are so unbelievably powerful that even without the violence of the film, some profound Biblical truths are proclaimed. There are two moments that I never grow tired of in this film. The first is the initial scene in Gethsemane. The psychological agony of knowing what’s about to happen to Him while also knowing that He could stop it in a second is palpable and the addition of Satan to the scene, while extra-biblical, adds that much more to the tension. The pinnacle of this scene to me is Jesus crushing the serpent’s head with His heel, which is an obvious reference to the prophecy contained within the curse from Genesis 3. The other moment happens on the Via Dolorosa. Mary is frantically trying to get close to Jesus to offer some level of comfort to her condemned son and when she finally reaches Him, it is Jesus who attempts to comfort as He says, ‘See, mother. I make all things new.’
Well, I wanted to share my tradition with you. As I finish typing this, I’m about to begin watching. May we never forget the sacrifice that was paid for our sins, and may we celebrate with unrestrained joy His triumph over death, hell, and the grave. He is risen!