The Passion of the Christ: Revisited

Last night, I watched The Passion of the Christ for the second time. The student ministry I help at was showing it at the conclusion of a series about Jesus’ obedience. I am trying to think of the main thing that God spoke into my life through the movie. I can’t boil it down to one. There are many things that hit me. Some are related to the movie and others are related to the various responses that the high school students displayed. Here are my thoughts. In no particular order:

  •  Jesus was a real, living, breathing human being. I think that I’ve always pictured Jesus and the disciples as these cartoon-character-story-book-legendary-hero-types. While I’ve always “believed” that they truly existed, I don’t think that existence was as real to me.
  • Jesus’ obedience was perfect. Jesus marched to the beat of a different drum. His actions prove that he wasn’t simply trying to fit in with the religious world; neither was he trying to fit in with his disciples. He didn’t seem to try find his acceptance among men, but lived for God’s approval.
  • Jesus’ teachings were profound.The first time I viewed this film, I was really struck by the actual suffering and death of Christ. The physical act hit me. This time, I was struck by all the things that Jesus said. I was struck by his teachings, his responses to question/criticism, his treatment of strangers, and his forgiveness of those that crucified him.
  • Jesus would be a poor political candidate. There are so many times when Jesus has the opportunity to defend himself or correct the people’s theology. He does not. His Kingdom isn’t about winning or convincing or proving himself right. The whole of creation proves Jesus right. Human nature proves Jesus right. He didn’t seem very “strategic” in his answers. He had great opportunities to share truth with large groups of people who were interested in what he had to say, but he didn’t. Jesus was all about his father’s will.
  • Where in the world does today’s American church align with the life and teaching of Jesus? As I’m watching the film, I kept asking myself, “How does what we do in churches today have anything to do with this?” What percentage of church activities have very little to do with Christ’s life and teaching?
  • Our responses to God’s movement are often formed by the context we are in. After the film ended, not a single student moved. No one left, no one talked. The room felt like sacred ground. We were standing on holy ground. As one who is studying ministry, this silence (which lasted about 15-20 minutes) struck me. This wasn’t something a “great church” would do. I’ve read countless books about the importance of transitions in services, and using music, and whatnot. But this silence was God. Students were dealing with God. This wasn’t about singing “Amazing Grace” or “The Wonderful Cross” after viewing the film. The youth pastor didn’t get up and give a gospel presentation. It was silent. It was holy ground.
  • Meekness, Humility, Forgiveness, Obedience, Submission. These attitudes seem to have been lost today. In our get-what-you-can-for-yourself society, I’m not sure that many people feel any strong desire towards these traits. Jesus’ life highlights these. In my mind, one of the greatest ways that Christians ought to distinguish themselves from “the world” is through the practice and development of these qualities.

there’s probably more. God is too big to be limited to a blog post. or bullet points. or a single film. or one college student’s ideas.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. You wrote:

    “What percentage of church activities have very little to do with Christ’s life and teaching?”

    A very high percentage, from my experience.

    I saw a book on the shelf the other day titled “Pagan Christianity” written by, of all people, George Barna. It’s about how much of what we consider “church” really has nothing to do with the bible or true worship. His point: Much of what we do as “church” isn’t bad, it’s just not worth clinging to doctrinally. That’s what I gathered from the quick perusal I gave it anyway. Interesting stuff.

    I’ve seen Passion several times and I just can’t get past all the overwrought sentimentality – the ad nauseum slo-mo falling and tear-jerking score. It just reeks of “you should feel this!!” as opposed to just letting the story unfold and grab you. See No Country for Old Men and you’ll see an example of the kind of movie that is the exact opposite of Passion.

    Keep digging, brother.

    Brian

    Reply

  2. What an amazing post about and amazing movie about an amazing man. I just love how Jesus always showed the most compassion to the people that were his biggest critics and skeptics.

    The silence you spoke of after watching that movie is pretty universal. It happened in the movie theatre and at my church the second time I watched it. Forget about speaking in tounges, I think the language of silence is even MORE powerful!!!

    Reply

  3. tysdaddy,

    saw no country for old men. awesome. Awesome movie. No music. No BS. Just characters, drama, story. Great stuff. Best use of silence in a film.

    Great point about the music and slo mo. I think i was much more aware of this as I have studied film for a portion of a semester @ Taylor. I think that is why the actual sacrifice (as portrayed in the film) struck me less. However, Christ’s teachings and words are incredible.

    So beautiful. It has to be true.

    Andy,

    may more and more of our response to God’s prompting be silence.

    Reply

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