The Passion of the Christ

THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST: my honest opinion.

Before I went into the cinema this afternoon, I found myself caught up in conversation with a young lad serving behind the drinks counter. I think probably because I was wearing a dog collar, that he asked was I going in to see the PASSION OF THE CHRIST. While chatting to him it seems that some Christians, at an earlier performance, had recommended the film to him, and had said they would be praying for him, when he got to view it later on this evening.

We must have touched on the question of excessive violence in the film, for I responded by saying that the thin scratch marks on the body of Christ, in films such as Jesus of Nazareth, were real enough for me, as the Roman whip actually had leather tails, with bone or metal attached to the ends. It's no wonder that people have expressed their horror, at the 'so called' gratuitous violence in the flogging scene, where Jesus is lashed 39 times, because for years we've gazed at poetic images of an almost bloodless, scrubbed clean, blue-eyed, European holy man looking serene and calm in his suffering.

I was wondering whether this film would portray the suffering of Christ, as I've always imagined it to be. I told him I'd let him know afterwards…and as far as the accusation about it being anti-Semitic, I said I would judge for myself once I'd seen it.

'But' I said to him, 'isn't it a strange world we live in when so many distasteful and obscene, and often blasphemous films are churned out from America, and hardly anyone passes comment or bats an eyelid, yet here is a story about the most beautiful man who ever lived, dying a painful life, sacrificing himself for our sins…a man who has made such a great impact on people's lives through history and to the present day, and suddenly voices cry out wanting to ban it!'

So I went in to Screen 5…

What did I think?

On entering, I sensed the atmosphere of a church!

Without a doubt a sense of God's presence was there, AND the film was so VERY moving, in fact it was exactly what I have always imagined Jesus' death to be like. I unashamedly, sobbed several times as silently as I could.. thank the Lord for loud digital sound.

The whole experience brought me closer to Christ's suffering, and to the uniquely beautiful and sensitive spirit within him.

Yes there were one or two imaginative parts that weren't directly from scripture, but come on, on the whole it was word for word, pure gospel. And how I loved hearing the actual Aramaic tongue, and the Latin, which brought memories back of grammar school beginnings! The sub-titles were very clear and easy to read.

As to the accusation of the film being anti-Semitic…well I'm sorry I just don't agree.

In the Passion, I saw Jews who objected to the unfairness of Jesus' trial, and were hauled out of the way; there were Jewish disciples and followers. I saw Jews on the cross, and Jesus of course was a Jew, and he came first to them with his message of salvation, and they were the first to receive it. The first Christians were Jews. There are Jewish Christians today. I certainly did not come out feeling hatred for them.

The Jewish people are part of my heritage as a Christian, and I feel a great sense of oneness with them. And might I add, I feel that same kind of oneness to the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac alike, both sons of Abraham. I have Muslim friends too.

True Muslim, Jew, Christian, why can't we be more like true brothers and sisters even though we differ in our beliefs?

In the film the devil is lurking, not far away.

He's the real infiltrator in the shadows of time, who even today whispers to us 'Kill, maim, ignore the needy, plant the bomb, hate your brother, build a wall, keep them out, spend more, think of yourself, burn them, what's wrong with getting wasted on drink and drugs, Use her for the night, dump her tomorrow, exterminate the lot of them!'

He whispers even this, 'Don't go and see this film, IT'S NOT FOR YOU!'

We must learn to own up to the evil in each one of us, and admit to the sins of our nations in past history!

sIn has a capital 'I', and we never quite manage to reduce it to its proper size.

Jesus, on the other hand, brought light to those same shadows. It is he who bids us, 'Love your enemy, do good to those that hate you! Love one another, as I have loved you. Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing!'

All this time, and we still haven't learnt our lesson.

If I am the kind of Christian who says, 'No, I'm not going to go and see the Passion of Christ, because I can't stand to watch violence,' and there are many saying this, I say think again. Go see it, just close your eyes at the worst parts! But open your mind anew to commitment, ask God to speak to you through this film, pray to be a witness about your faith.

Should we not be an informed people, with opinions, so that we can be ready with an answer to those who want to know more about the Saviour of the Whole World? Jesus is the hot topic of conversation at the moment, don't waste the biggest opportunity of your life, to tell others what Jesus has done in your life. For a change people are talking about Jesus, and who he was.

Let's tell them who he is and what he means to us.

By the way the lad from the drink counter was waiting for me, as I came out of Screen 5, so I told him what I thought.

Mind you I would like to think that the millions that Mel Gibson makes out of this film will go to worthy causes throughout our troubled world…to areas that Christ would be PASSIONate about!

If anyone in our church would like to see this film, but has no transport, I'll take you next week. Give me a ring.

Sheila