I don’t know which is more surprising, the amount of press received before the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” or its staggering success!  The last theatrical release of a movie of Christ was the 90’s, “The Last Temptation of Christ”.  It was a box office flop, yet people are coming out by the millions to see, the latest release of a story that has played out continuously in venues ranging from stages to pulpits for nearly 2000 years…Why?

Many things are being said about this movie.  It is anti-Semitic.  It is too graphic.  On the other hand many come away from the viewing saying just the opposite in both cases.  What it really boils down to is a person’s perspective… If you don’t want the cause of Christ promoted, find a way to cast a downside to it.  Look for ways to cast doubts on its merit.  This strategy is nothing new.  If you don’t believe that, you need only look at what the Jews planned out in Matthew 28:11-15.  Satan has been defeated, yet in the few skirmishes he has left he will do his best to derail God’s cause, preventing as many as he can from turning from sin and evil to the love of a God who gave His only Son that we might live.

As for the violence, we can only imagine what Christ truly endured.  Isaiah 52 prophesies that His appearance would be marred more than any man.  Is this movie too violent?  It is if you prefer the sanitized versions we have been presented with over the centuries.  Images that indicate a beating or lashing, but only enough to know it had occurred.   It is too violent if your want to have your conscience soothed by the possibility that what Christ did for you and me wasn’t as cruel and horrible as depicted on screen.  I, for one do not want a whitewashed version of Christ’s passion.  Let me be convicted to the fullest possible extent of what my sins have cost the Son of the Most High God!  May I mourn my sinful condition so that I may truly be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

If you haven’t experienced the passion of Christ, either through the movie version or more importantly in your spiritual life, I would encourage you to do so.  No greater love has a man than that he would lay down his life for a friend.  Thank you, Jesus, thank you, my Friend…

Copyright © 2004, Nolan P. Rutter

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