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"Who Killed Jesus?"

Bob McCauley 2/1/04

I had the opportunity to view an early release of The Passion. Afterwards, I read some of the newspaper articles about the Jewish reclama, where the Jewish community was disputing the portrayal of the Jewish leaders in the film and claiming that the film should not be released in its current state because it reflected the Jewish people as evil.  The thought was that the cruelty of the Jews in the film would bring back the “The Jews Killed Christ” slogan and there would be an reprisal by extremist groups that would result in hate crimes against the Jews.

My first thought, as I watched the film, was that if there was any group that should complain, it should be the Italians.  The punishment, including the seminal scene where Christ, carrying the cross tripped, fell to the ground and the heavy cross toppled on the top of his head with sort of a crunching effect, was carried out by the Romans.  The Jews were pictured as aloof, but it was the Romans that cracked the whips, drove the thorns into his head, made him drink vinegar when he was dehydrated and thirst-punished, drove nails into his hands/wrists, and shoved a sword into his side. The scenes where the Roman soldiers provided the floggings are so graphic that I predict that there will be instances similar to those when movies were first shown, where the audience will cry out for the soldiers on screen to stop.  The first beatings with the wooden switches were so intense and with such a duration that the soldiers had to stop and rest before they went on.  They then turned to beating Jesus on the hamstring areas which was so intense that I found my legs jerking away from the chair I was sitting on. The soldiers were then commanded to use the cat-of-nine-tails when Jesus was left standing.  This additional beating was so long that there was no places left unscathed on Jesus' back and the soldiers were commanded to turn Him over.  The cinematography effect then faded into a dulled sound, where the whips would lift and lower Jesus's body over and over while He drifted towards death.  Before it was over, one of the cat-of-nine-tails hit Jesus in the eye. There will obviously be many people that will vomit during this show, and many others will not be able to watch and will leave the show.

My second reflection of the film was that it was nothing new.  It was just a realistic depiction of the words in the Bible that described the judgment, punishment, and death of Jesus.  It was very similar to the film that used to be shown in grade school when I went to school back in Dallas Texas. Those old films were realistic – there was no political reason during those days to throttle the Biblical description.  I can remember kids in the school auditorium weeping and sobbing.  If I had not read the “Jewish reclama” I would have simply seen The Passion and thought that it was amazingly accurate with respect to the Bible.

My third thought was that the Jewish reclama was an effort not to escape the blame and resulting hate crimes, but rather to thwart the release of the film which would show that Jesus was real, was God, and provided a witness that the Jewish nation and religion had missed the boat.

My final thought was that the Jewish reclama is really a great opportunity to point out the significance of Christ’s death – Specifically with respect to following the chain of “Who Is To Blame”.

  1. The Jews are to blame – yes, they kicked it off and passed the sentence
  2. The Romans are to blame – yes, they delivered the punishment and put Jesus to death
  3. God is to blame – yes, He allowed it to happen for a purpose, so that He could take the punishment for what we deserve, which leads to the real blame:
  4. We (all people, all nations) are to blame – it is our sins that caused God to allow the Romans to deploy the sentence dictated by the Jews.

So a good way to reclama the Jewish reclama (in an individual conversation) is to say – “no, it wasn’t your nation to blame – it was me.”

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