Do you remember the last time a movie made you cry? It’s not something I often do. In fact, it’s been 14 years since I couldn’t control my emotions in a movie theater. I was watching The Passion of the Christ.
Much of the movie depicted just how horrible the torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ really was. The Gospels’ descriptions of those events are brief:
Matthew 27:26 – Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Mark 15:15 – So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Luke 22:63 – Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.
John 19:1 – Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.
Some translations use “flogged” instead of “scourged.” I never really knew the true scope of either word before watching The Passion of the Christ. The movie did not hold back on showing the historically accurate brutality of the Romans’ punishment. The violence was shocking.
The movie review website Rotten Tomatoes wrote, “The graphic details of Jesus’ torture… obscure whatever message it is trying to convey.”
Obscure whatever message? I’ve never seen the message of the Gospel delivered so powerfully! Jesus Christ loved us so much; he was willing to go through that kind of unspeakable agony? That kind of sacrifice to pay for our sins?
Mel Gibson, who wrote and directed the movie, said “I wanted it to be shocking… so that they see the enormity – the enormity of that sacrifice; to see that someone could endure that and still come back with love and forgiveness, even through extreme pain and suffering and ridicule. The actual crucifixion was more violent than what was shown on the film…”
Film critic Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars. “What Gibson has provided for me, for the first time in my life, is a visceral idea of what the Passion consisted of.” Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus, said “That’s what I wanted more than anything, that people would have a visceral effect to finally make a decision whether to follow Him or not.” Pope John Paul II called the film “incredible” – saying, “It is as it was.”
I think of The Passion of the Christ every year on Good Friday. The magnitude of His love for us is beyond description. Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem us from sin. I didn’t have to see it to believe it, but now I’ll never forget it.