About That Mel Gibson Movie on the Passion of The Christ….One More Thing!

About That Mel Gibson Movie on the Passion of The Christ….One More Thing!

"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

John 10:17,18; Matthew 27:46; John 19:30 NKJV

As detective Columbo would say, "Oh, there's just one more thing!" Just when the suspect thought the meddling detective was finally leaving, there was a pause, the characteristic rubbing of the head with his fingers, and then the aforementioned statement. To the increased irritation of the suspect, there was at least one more question to be answered as Columbo relentlessly pursued his goal of solving the case at hand!

Mel Gibson's movie on the final hours of Jesus Christ has sparked extensive comments and controversy for months. Private screenings for selected individuals have resulted in endorsements as well as some questioning, especially as it pertains to the Jews. Criticism has been mainly in the area of possible reaction and a new wave of anti-Semitism surging forth.

Certain Christian leaders seem to be going out of the way in indicating by statement and influence that everything possible will be done to prevent a back lash against Jewish people and labeling them as "Christ killers."

One weekly news magazine featured on its cover in bold letters the question, "Who killed Jesus Christ?" And so the discussion and the debate continue on the issue.

Historically it is really impossible to deny certain established facts, even though some persons seem to want to do this. From the Bible we have the following:

    Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, being a Jew in His humanity and at the same time, being God living in a human body -- this last reality is denied by some who profess to be Christian, but there will be a time and a place where they will be confronted with this truth, and their eternal destiny will be decided by this same Jesus Who will rule as King of kings and Lord of lords forever!

    Jesus entered His ministry at about the age of 30 years. It was a combined ministry of preaching, teaching, and the performance of many different miracles. While very popular with the common people, He became the target of hostility on the part of the religious establishment, which was made up of Jewish leaders.

    After about 3 years things came to a head and Jesus was brutally crucified at the insistence of the religious authorities. The primary accusation consisted of Jesus being guilty of blasphemy and claiming to be God. There are those in every generation since then until now who have come to know Him as Lord and Savior after repenting of their sins, and they testify without hesitation that He indeed is God, forever alive after His triumphant resurrection from the dead following the crucifixion. Again, Protestantism has been plagued with persons (clergy and lay) who deny His resurrection, saying that it doesn't really make any difference!

    The Old Testament contains many prophecies concerning Jesus coming into the world and what He would accomplish. More details are given in the four Gospel accounts as well as throughout the remainder of the New Testament as to what His purpose for coming into the world was all about.

Mel Gibson spent a lot of time researching and reading as he prepared to launch into the project of making a movie about those final hours in the life of Jesus. He wanted it to be as realistic as possible and that it would reflect the Biblical record as given to us in the Gospels. Why did he want to do this and become embroiled in controversy which he had never experienced before? By his own statements he has undergone a change in his life and felt compelled to do this and by his own admission, there was a time earlier in his life in which he drank deeply of the debauchery that is the distinct trademark of Hollywood! His unusual way of expressing this in one interview was that he took his "proboscis" (a tubular sucking organ of insects) and dipped in and sucked away!

Understandably, the secular world with its powerful media and entertainment interests has not been all that sympathetic to Gibson's project. It also needs to be born in mind that he felt so strongly about doing this that he has personally invested millions of dollars of his own money in the effort. You will never find many, if any, high profile people in the entertainment industries (movie, TV, music, talk show, etc.) who are willing to pay that kind of cost -- they are more than willing to engage in just about any kind of project so long as someone else foots the bill for it and they make a few million in the process to finance their materialistic lifestyles! At the end of this commentary will be some links, including one which is titled, "Reminders When Mansion Shopping!" [1]. You will see how the mansions that the wealthy of this world heap to themselves (and they usually are never content with just one) stand in sharp contrast to the one which Jesus Christ has promised to His followers!

It is extremely wise to always keep in mind what Jesus said about Himself and what His followers should expect as we find ourselves moving down the home stretch of human history. He spoke of increased chaos, persecution, and hatred in the clearest of terms!

"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me….These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me."

"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another."

John 15:18-21; 16:1-3: Matthew 24:9,10 NKJV

He also spoke of a world which would regress to conditions such as dominated the human race at the time of Noah and at the time of Lot when he lived in Sodom! All of this is clearly spelled out in the Gospel accounts, but for some strange reason seems to be often avoided today.

"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed."
Luke 17:26-30 NKJV

But on to the question of just one more thing. "The Passion of The Christ" will definitely depict violence as it has never been portrayed before in earlier films which attempted to tell the story of Jesus, and there have been quite a few. While the others attempted to deal with more details of Jesus' life, Gibson's movie focuses on those final hours involving Jesus' trial and crucifixion.

The one thing no one, including Mel Gibson, can do when attempting to picture Jesus in those final hours is to reveal the whole truth of His agony as He took upon Himself the sins of every human being ever born or yet to be born in the future! Yes, one will see the physical forms of violence in graphic detail which were thrust upon Him along with all the verbal mockery. But what was really going on when He uttered those soul wrenching words, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" The best that we can come up with in our very limited human way is that in that moment Jesus experienced the lowest depths of Hell -- totally forsaken and abandoned by God on our behalf, so that we wouldn't have to experience the terror of an eternity in torment! No actor, no matter how skilled in his craft he may be, can convey that reality -- the horror and anguish of being totally cut off from God and every blessing God has the power to bestow! A Scripture reference from Hebrews 2:9 cited below reminds us that Jesus tasted death for every human being -- and that is not mere physical death to which reference is made, but spiritual death or the "second death" which is to be totally separated from God as described in the book of The Revelation.

We can read of it in the Scripture and graphic details given there but still we struggle in attempting to grasp what He experienced because of His great love for us. For instance consider these statements:

He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

Isaiah 53:3-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Galatians 3:13,14: Hebrews 2:9 NKJV

Are we able to grasp at least a little bit what this all means? Simply this -- it means His brutal death was for EVERY person -- even those of other great world religions -- for the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists -- for EVERY person!

The most important question every person has to answer in life is this -- "What have I done with Jesus Christ?" Which leads now to this -- what have YOU done with Jesus?

Christians who respect the Word of God have already made that decision -- that is, by honest acknowledgement and repentance of their sins, they have received Jesus Christ into their lives as Savior and Lord and are resolved to live in obedience to His will on a daily basis as He tarries in His return to earth. For these it is imperative to pray that God will use the witness of the movie, "The Passion of The Christ," to touch the hearts of many of all ages and draw them to a personal knowledge and acquaintaince with Himself!

And could it be that "The Passion of The Christ" may be the last and final appeal that God will make to a nation presently engulfed in rebellion and abominations of every conceivable kind? Think of it -- this is a nation-wide event with high profile publicity -- masses of people of all ages will be confronted with the challenge as to what they will do with this God Who chose to become human and to sacrifice His life for the sins of the entire human race!

Most critical will be the responses made by those in positions of power, influence, and wealth -- elected officials, the very influential who are involved in mass media communications, high profile persons in the entertainment industries of stage, film, TV, and music, the many influential persons involved in professional sports, and the many who are in professions of teaching, medicine, law, etc. Last, but by no means least, what responses will be made by those who comprise the congregations of our churches, those who lead them, and those who lead the denominations of which those many churches are a part?

Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus Who is called Christ?" They all said to him, "Let Him be crucified!"
Matthew 27:22 NKJV

And if the majority still chooses to give a "thumbs down" on this appeal, what then? God's dealings with humans has always been consistent in 2 forms throughout history beginning with the moment that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden -- the compassionate offer of grace, mercy, and forgiveness on the condition of repentance OR chaos and judgment as His fierce wrath has been poured out on those rebels (and entire nations) who continually persist in rejecting His laws and defying Him! A re-reading of Noah's experiences in the early chapters of Genesis can be very helpful on this issue. Time will tell. In the meantime, think much and do a lot of praying about this!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

John 3:16; 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8-10 NKJV

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels."
Luke 9:23-26 NKJV


February 19, 2004
by Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
W. PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy PA

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