Living History

The Reason For The Passion

Bob McCauley

The release of Mel Gibson's movie The Passion Of The Christ will trigger global discussions of the punishment, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to an intensity never witnessed before in modern times. This movie provide scenes which present a realistic view of the pain that God's Son suffered during the last 12 hours of His life.


This entire film sequence will initiate complaints and finger pointing as to who is resp   onsible for the killing of Christ. The following links discuss this issue and attempt to provide some thoughts as to how the film should be viewed and what the viewers should gain during this visit to theater.

Jesus Builds A Table - The media is focusing on the controversial material of the film.  But there are some low key scenes that the audience needs to be prepared for - else they will miss them on the first pass. For instance, there is a scene where Jesus builds a table and He touches the table with the pride of a carpenter.  As He slides His fingers over the well polished wood, satisfaction radiates on His face. The significance of God incarnate enjoying His creation of a piece of woodwork has a symbolism that relates to the verse in Genesis where God creates the world and declares that "it is good."  The next scene shows Mary commenting to Jesus that the table is too tall.  This is symbolic of man's questioning of God's control of the world throughout the ages.  How many times has God heard "Why would a loving God allow 'that" to happen?"  When Jesus explains that He has yet to make the chairs and they will be of a height to fit the table, it is symbolic of the ultimate success of God's plans.  This explanation to Mary reminds one of the verse in the Gospel of John where Jesus declares "In my Father's house are many mansions."


Mysterious Figure - the director of this movie had great insight into the passion of Jesus Christ.  Some of this insight was explicit, but many scenes contain subtle, deep meanings about the true reason for the passion. Watch for the scene where the mysterious figure floats through the crowd during the flogging of Jesus at the stake. Try to correlate how Jesus is affected by this figure and how He then responds afterwards.  Study the smiles on the faces of the Roman soldiers as they deliver their lashes.  When people disappoint Him with their actions, the metaphor is the whelps that appear on Jesus' bloody back.  When the soldiers laugh, it is like people laughing at God after their disobedience.


Objection To The Movie Poster

A note was posted on one of the Yahoo Groups indicating that someone had gone to Gibson's movie and liked it so much that they put a poster about the movie over their desk at work.  A Jewish co-worker complained about the poster and the boss took it down.  There was a question on this post that asked "Why should anyone object to the poster?".

This situation brings up an interesting issue.  The poster is a clear reminder that the Jews have missed the boat.  Think of all the rituals that they have to go through, still looking for the Messiah.  In looking at the poster, they have to remember the prophesy that their temple would be torn down and have to face the fact that that prophesy has been fulfilled. And, no matter how many 6-days wars the nation of Israel wins, they still have no temple.  Having that poster up could make any Jew wake up at night in a cold sweat.  The movie reveals so many things that are clear, obvious indications of what the Jews missed -- such as the miracles that Jesus performed that had only been done by Elisha and Elijah.. And the movie so clearly provides the reason that God gave the Leviticus laws to the Jews which focused on blood sacrifice as pointers to what the Messiah would have to do to provide propitiation for sins. Every time the priests sprinkled the blood on the alter pointed forward to the blood seen on Jesus on those posters.

In the post mentioned above, the Jewish lady was asked if she would object if the poster was about a movie with a Muslim scene. The answer was - "Of course not". There is nothing in the Muslim faith to threaten a person that is of Jewish religion.  No cold sweat at night,  wouldn't even take a second look at it... might as well be a Far Side cartoon.

Bottom line is that the complaint about the poster only underscores the success of the movie. The Passion Of The Christ presents a clear picture of what the non-Christian world is missing..  


More on the movie at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the-passion-of-the-christ/


Interesting Questions


There are some very interesting chats happening on the http://YahooGroups.com (such as the group The-Passion-Of-The-Christ).  Some questions that have arose are:

  • Was the wooden table that Jesus built and showed to Mary the same as the one that the Roman soldiers used to hold their flogging whips?

  • Was the donkey that at the scene where Judas was killed the same as the one that Jesus rode in to Jerusalem?

  • When Jesus said "Father, forgive them" at the punishment and crucifixion - should this have precluded any anti-Semitic activities after His death? (i.e., whatever God forgave in person should have sufficed to preclude any later "the Jews killed Christ" sentiment.)

  • When Jesus said "Father, forgive them", did that include Judas?

  • Was this forgiveness for salvation or just for the punishment and crucifixion? In other words, for those Jews that Jesus forgave for the punishment and crucifixion, were they saved? Or did they have to satisfy the Mosaic Law for their other sins?

  • When did people gain salvation by accepting Jesus' propitiation for their sins -- when He started His ministry?  When He died?  When He rose from the dead?

  • Was there a metaphorical meaning to Mary's actions when she scooped up two fist-fulls of dirt before the soldiers placed the Cross in the ground?

If you have other questions or answers or comments to the above, submit them to info@waysoflife.com


Billy Graham Testimony About The Movie. "After watching 'The Passion of the Christ,' I feel as if I have actually been there.  I was moved to tears.  I doubt there has ever been a more graphic and moving presentation of Jesus' death and resurrection." ~ Rev. Billy Graham, President Billy Graham Evangelistic Assoc.


Other Testimonies:

I saw the Passion today...no words can describe how I felt...it was awesome.. all I kept thinking was Jesus did this for me....(anonymous)


Anonymous -  go to church but this movie awakened something in me.  A desire to learn more and to be a better person, to live like God would want me to live. (anonymous)


Becky - I saw this movie once, earlier this week, and after watching I realized how little I know about the Bible. It inspired me to start going to church regularly again and to better devote my life to God. It changed me from my Sunday School mentality to adult mentality. Becky


Frank - The Passion was the most powerful movie I've ever seen. As a Christian it reinforced to me the suffering and sacrifice that Christ endured for all of us (everyone - Christians and non-Christians alike). It was most definitely a love story to me (the love of God for all of us). The violence had to be graphic. How could beatings and a crucifixion not be violent? I had only seen watered down scenes in other movies. This movie brought to life what Christ endured. This movie will definitely bring many to Christ. I have
already seen this in people around me. As far as the controversy goes, it seems to be dying down now that people are actually seeing the movie. Most are realizing that the claims against this movie are just not true. For those that still have issues, I would say read the 4 Gospels yourself. We don't need
religious scholars that don't believe that the Bible is the inherent Word of God telling us what really happened. See for yourself.


Rick - Last night I went to see the movie with my wife. In my entire life of seeing movies that at times did move me or bring me to the edge - This movie is by far the most emotional of all. I don't think there was a dry eye in the theater including mine. Its a movie to remember and even more so to thank God for what we have.


Kelly - As I sat in the theater waiting for the movie to start I had the feeling in my stomach that I get when I'm standing in line to for a roller coaster that I don't want to ride.  Anxiety kept building... I love the fact that the movie starts with the scripture from Isaiah "He was wounded for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed."  Yes, the scourging and crucifixion was brutal.  I wanted to stand up and scream, "Stop!  Stop already! I left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that He would choose to do this, willingly, out of His great love for me, out of His desire to have relationship with me. I have a deeper understanding of the price Christ paid for me.  I have a deeper appreciation of what He does for me.  I have a greater awareness of the scripture, "The same power that raised Christ from the dead is within you..."

Behind The Scenes

The Jews Really Killed Christ!  However, this is not pertinent to a non-Jew.  It is none of their business.  Anyone that has ever uttered hatred for the Jews because of what they did to Jesus is violating Jesus' final words where He forgave those that were punishing and crucifying him. It is not good to blame someone for something that Jesus himself directly forgave.


What Next? - After the final box office results of this movie are published, Hollywood producers will be energized to produce quality-based films that address religious issues. After the first few days, the movie is reported to have grossed $125M and a poll indicated that 53% of the people in the US haven't seen the film, but expect to.  Some will be pro-God and some will attack God and Christian thinking (see The Upcoming Challenge). Don't be surprised if Jewish and Islamic films are produced with an anti-Christ theme.  This will continue until some of these films bomb, at which time Hollywood will go back to secular productions.


Stomping on the Snake - Early in the movie a scene is shown where a snake slithers out and is stomped on.  This refers to a prophesy of the Messiah that is found in Genesis 3:15:
        "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;

         it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

God Hunger? Given a choice, most people would opt for a life of freedom from an all-knowing, all-present entity that constrains them with accountability to a set of rules that sometimes opposes their natural desires. The other side of this coin is that regardless of the desire to be free from a controlling deity, there appears to be an innate drive in the human personality to seek to know more about the creator that has designed and deployed space, physical activity, humans, human interaction and a highly complex, synergistic set of live supporting beings in the form of animals, insects, plants, etc. This indigenous drive to seek that deity is arguably the strongest evidence of the existence of God. And this need to seek God could explain the public popularity of Gibson's movie. There are so many competing attractions in this world to swamp the minds of humans that it takes unusual events such as the intense flogging scenes in the to compete with these alternative intellectual pursuits, setting the mind free to concentrate on "Who is God?", "Who is Jesus?" and what do they have with me?.


Passion Police -  There is a new word surfacing around the country - "passionaphobia."  If you want to read a very funny, but logically presented defense of Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ, go to the link Passion Police.


Movie Driving People Crazy?  Eric Hoffer's "The Ordeal Of Change" offers that, when subjected to significant change, humans go a little crazy. But he also points out that this isn't always a bad thing. For instance, he says that the change from feudal Europe to a more free wheeling life in America caused a bit of craziness to be evidenced in Americans and this craziness fostered the creativity that resulted in a great nation.  Mel Gibson's movie has presented a change that has generated a similar "craziness" in that most people really don't know how to react to the movie and are just offering sound bytes that explain nothing.  Reactions have surfaced in the form of strong objections by Jews, heaped praise by the fundamentalist rights, etc., but for the most part, the majority of people just haven't been able to file this movie into a comfortable slot in their brain.  This confusion can be alleviated by putting the events of the movie into a systematic view of the world.  Jesus stated that "in my Father's house are many mansions."  This is a very strong declaration that indicates that there are many more things for His followers than life on Earth.  What is this future existence that Christians can expect?  Nobody knows, except that it involves eternal life in an environment that includes direct communication with the Creator of the Universe.  The question to be asked with regard to the movie is not "is it too brutal?", but rather "what does the brutality have to do with the overall plan of God for humans." To answer this question, one needs to look at the sacrifice paradigm that was introduced to the original Jewish nation and what blood sacrifices pointed to.  Following that is the question - "what does man have to do to have access to a righteous God in the eternal life scenario?"  This website. Waysoflife.com will be discussing this issue in great detail in the next few weeks.  The bottom line is that Mel Gibson's carefully crafted presentation of Jesus' last 12 hours on Earth can only be understood with respect to the big picture.


Who Killed Jesus? - Before the movie is released, the media - specifically TV and radio talk shows will focus on the subject of "Who Killed Jesus" and will discuss the complaints from the Jewish community with respect to predicted increase of hate crimes against the Jews.  On February 25, 2004, the newspapers will begin to report on the reaction to the actual viewing of the movie.


Audience Reaction? - In the early days of movies, the audience used to shout at the actors on the screen.  During cowboy films, for instance, someone in the audience would shout out to the hero something like "watch out for the man behind the barn."  Similarly, audience participation will be evidenced in The Passion of The Christ.  During the long drawn out whipping scenes, where the Roman soldiers are beating Jesus to a point where their arms are so tired they can't continue, the audience will be crying out for the soldiers to stop.  Many will leave the theater during this punishment. Others will vomit during these scenes, such as where the cat-of-nine-tails strikes Jesus in the eye. 


Graphic Scenes? - The media will focus on the graphic presentation of the gory scenes.  But this graphic cinematography offers a unique-to-modern-history opportunity to understand what God allowed His Son to suffer for the actions of humans.


Prediction - World Record - The Passion Of The Christ will make The Guinness Book Of Records for "most times watched." Some people have seen this movie 20 to 30 times and say that each additional time they see the movie they see and understand more of the what the director was trying to say.  The cinematography alone is unparalleled in Hollywood movies.  There is a scene where Mary wipes up the blood on the ground after Jesus is beaten. The action is done with the care of someone gathering priceless diamonds off the ground.  The impact of this scene cannot be realized in one viewing. When the DVD of this film comes out, scenes like this and the one of Jesus admiring the table He built will be shown in Churches and watched over and over throughout the rest of this century.


Violence Is Like Cholesterol - Can Be Good And Bad - William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has issued perhaps the most powerful, cogent defense of Gibson's movie. Donohue's response can be seen by clicking the following link. Good And Bad Violence. Donohue succinctly draws a correlation of violence and cholesterol, which can be both good and bad.


Newt Gingrich's Comment - Newt was asked why the movie was facing such an uproar.  Why are people focusing on the negative aspects of the film? He commented that the problem was that the film forced the viewer to take the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ seriously.


Why Is God So Brutal? That is the question being asked on many of the Internet forums.  The issue is not Why is God so brutal, but what is His nature to permit free will in our lives where brutality can be chosen.  There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in our universe, and in that complex creation, the nature of God is 100 billion times as complex as the total stars in the universe. Somewhere, in that existence of God is a nature of righteousness that is difficult to understand in our three dimensional world. The brutality in the film reflects a necessary step that God had to make for us to allow us to take ownership of the righteousness required to be in His presence, both in this world and whatever is to come.

Ways Of Life Website - Additionally links below contain articles address Christian living in general (God's framework, marriage, and slides depicting the Crucifixion) in these modern times. 


Who Is Jesus? - After listening to hours of interviews on television and reading extensive opinions in newspapers, it is apparent that there there is a divergent understanding of "who is Jesus?"  This is a request to the visitors of this website as to their answer - "Who Is Jesus?"  All reasonable replies (unless requested not to) will be published.  Names and email addresses of the sender will not be published unless permission is granted.  Send your answer to mailto:info@waysoflife.com


Other Links

Breakwater | Official Passion Site | Jean Keaton  Healing Force  | Great Site In Australia

http://www.cptryon.org/xpipassio/  |  Testimonies


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