During this past weekend’s prayer retreat God spoke clearly about reaching those who do not know Him…the lost, the hurting, and the searching. I pulled this out of my archives for this Easter season because reading it again moved me deeply. It describes what I’m meditating on and praying for. – JC
On February the 24th, 2004, I saw an advance screening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and I was stunned to say the least. For months the movie has been touted by many Christian Leaders as a wonderful evangelistic tool, I admit to wondering just what would its evangelical effect be on me. What would I be drawn to? What would it do to my own heart?
What I experienced went far deeper than I imagined, for this was much more than a collection of violent colloid images on a screen…it was a vision. I’m not saying it is a perfect or complete one; still the graphic imagery ripped away at the notion of “Jesus, meek and mild.” Here was a Savior whose very presence commanded attention—who without defending himself defended us all for eternity sake. This film like the Scripture shows a strong man, standing alone after all have deserted him, but he’s not wavering. Mostly silent, yet fighting with all he has, not for his own life but for ours.
The Romans used crucifixion as a political and military punishment, pouring out their cruelty on the lowest rungs of society—slaves, violent criminals and whoever stood against Rome. Some scholars believe that Jesus spent 6 hours on hanging on the cross, this after some of the most torturous beatings anyone has ever had to endure. Here, a supreme battle took place as He took on the sins of the world. In the film, one of the thieves cries out to Jesus, “Why do you embrace your cross?” He embraced the cross and His Father’s will for our sake, for that battle and our freedom.
To me the Passio—the suffering of our Lord—intense as it was, didn’t over shadow the passion he showed for humanity. All through the scourging, the beatings, the insults and the desertions, he continues to look on them with compassion and love. Although his right eye is closed shut due to the severe beatings, he keeps scanning the crowd of accusers, loved ones and bystanders, powerfully demonstrating how the eye of the lord is always on our redemption. When the movie shows Jesus repeatedly falling down, it shows it from the viewpoint of Jesus, often viewing their feet as he lands on the ground. Our Savior was and is concerned for our walk, where we’re going and the burden we carry with us.
Despite many reviews to the contrary, this is not a finger pointing film. No, this is an anti-sin film, a story about Father God who so loves His creation, is so against sin, that He births His divinity into the world to redeem it. If one views this film simply as a means to evangelize one’s neighbor or sees it strictly as propaganda, they will miss a great treasure. This is a visual representation of the greatest love story ever told, it reveals the heart of God towards us and the truth of who really “killed” Christ…no one, for He purposely gave up His life. Yes, it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross but it was His love for me that drove Him there. This is the Gospel, the Good News, all wrapped up in a declaration of…”Father forgive them, they know not what they do!”
My passion for the Christ must try to reach the level of my Saviors love for me. The feeble attempts at such an intensity of love needs to end, it can’t stay ordinary, safe and measured. This passion must overwhelm me, drawing me deeper into Him, His Passio made it possible for me to live my life out in this manner. As a father I want to love my children so much, so well, so completely, just like the Father loves me. I want to be like Him, unafraid to send His own into a dark place to bring life and light.
“He was bruised for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5