Image of crown and cross.
The Passion
of the Christ

When my husband and I went to see the film The Passion of the Christ, only a few people were in the theater at this weekday afternoon showing, mostly gray hairs like us. We watched a young couple walk down the theater aisle with a huge tub of popcorn and sodas. We wondered what they were expecting to see. Neither of us ever noticed if they actually ate any of it even though they sat in our line of sight.

I had to close my eyes during portions of the movie. Cruelty is so distressing to me that I do not go to see movies that portray this ugly side of humanity. But I felt compelled to go to this one and I do not regret that decision.

Afterwards, I felt numb and full of grief as I did when my mother and father suffered and died of cancer. The film is so powerful emotionally that any deviation from Scripture didn’t seem to matter. I came away with a deeper understanding that Jesus knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how tough this was going to be; that he could have been delivered at any time just by asking his heavenly Father; but he chose to go through with it. Every blow he took was a blow taken for me and every blow was delivered by me. He went through with it because he wanted me to survive for all eternity. Every person can put his or her name in these sentences. He did it because he cared more for us than he did for his own comfort. Each one of us is so valuable to God that he paid the price to buy us back from enslavement to evil. The price was his own suffering and death of his physical body. 

Jesus’ suffering and death on that Roman execution stake is still such a powerful draw that this movie brought in crowds of people. “ ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He [Jesus] said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” (John 12:31-33)

Jesus still has the power to elicit hatred and ridicule from those who reject his claims. One movie critic ended his brief acidic review with, “Don’t go see it.” Individual reaction to the movie portrayal is as diverse as the reaction of  people to Jesus himself.

Jesus has something to say to all of us who experienced this movie:

“When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:44-50)

Our opinion of the movie is of little consequence, but our acceptance or rejection of Jesus has eternal consequences. 

Scarlett Stough