On the Plains of Moab Blog
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April 5, 2012, 11:12 PM

The Passion of the Christ

While other churches were hosting the traditional Maundy Thursday services and Seder Meals -- we tried something a little different tonight.  We got together for dinner and a movie.  We just recently installed a new 60 inch flat panel HD TV in the Fellowship Hall.  It is hooked up to our PA system there making it a pretty nifty place to watch a flick!

About 20 of us viewed Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.  Many of us had already seen the film.  There were a couple that had not.  I must admit that I was a little nervous during the movie.  Was this the right thing to do?  My ten year old son is watching this with me.  This is a really bloody and violent movie!  If I had taken that beating, I would have been dead before getting to Caiaphas!  Gibson really had them beat the day lights out of Jesus!  Is this movie appropriate in church?

But, hey, it is Passion Week.  I think that we tend to skip over the crucifixion in a perfunctory way.  The reasoning goes like this:  Jesus was God right?  And he knew he was going to come back to life, right?  So, no big deal.  Other Christians, particularly on the left, just despise the idea of penal substitution, so they embrace other more upbeat theories of atonement and fast forward to the resurrection!  Besides, on all accounts, the trip to the cross is depressing.  Most people don't want to be brought down.  I think this is the reason that Good Friday services are so poorly attended by Christians.  Our own gathering tonight was rather sparse.  Hey, I understand!  It takes quite a bit of endurance to make it through Gibson's presentation.  As the credits roll at the end, you feel like you've just gone fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson.

However, I do have a few thoughts about what I witnessed tonight:

  • When Jesus was really bloodied, I leaned over my son's shoulder and wispered, "See how much Jesus loves you?"
  • I was close to tears many times.  I had to hold it together as we closed in prayer at the end of the evening.
  •  I was repulsed by the pure callousness of the religious establishment.  I was even more disgusted by the portrayal of the Roman soldiers -- what a drunken, stupid, evil bunch of clods!
  • But then, you realize that you've been played:  We are looking into a mirror and seeing our own sin that brought the Son of God to this point!
  • I don't think this film was anti-semitic.  That's a crock.  The Romans come off much worse, and yet, I didn't hear any Italian lobby crying bloody murder and discrimination when the movie came out!  In fact, many Jews are protrayed sympathetically -- even Caiaphas seems to come to his senses at the end.
  • I think this was more powerful and vivid than any worship exercise that we could have presented.  Let's face it -- film is a powerful medium.  It is our language.

Will we do this again?  Maybe.  Perhaps we will kick off Holy Week next year with the film and then try to follow up with the more traditional forms of observance with this graphic imagery close to heart.

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