After reading all the reviews, all the hype, all the criticisms and accolades, I finally got an opportunity to see Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion Of The Christ" for myself. It was everything the film was billed to be, and more!
As a Christian pastor, the first thing I looked for was scriptural accuracy. I was not disappointed. While Gibson added events not specifically mentioned in the Gospel narratives, there was nothing unscriptural about the film. Nothing. Beyond that, those parts that were added to the historical record were not out of context. Just the opposite: they carefully followed the character and circumstances of the record to an extremely realistic degree.
Knowing of Gibson's Catholic beliefs, the next thing I looked for was an overemphasis on Mary. Again, I was not disappointed. She was not presented in any manner inconsistent with the Word of God. She was beautifully pictured as a Godly woman of faith and humility who was forced to endure the unspeakable pain of watching her son suffer such an agonizing death.
Of course, the Person of Christ was played magnificently. I doubt that there could ever be a better on screen depiction of our Lord. This presentation of Christ sets the definitive standard for all films, past and future. The scenes depicting the beatings, scourging, and crucifixion of Jesus were brutally realistic and, again, faithful to the scriptural record.
Furthermore, the "supporting cast" such as Pilate, Pilate's wife, the Jewish High Priest, the Jewish leaders, Simon Peter, the disciple John, the Roman Centurion, and the betrayer Judas Iscariot were all wonderfully played. There were no weak characters. No person relevant to the story was improperly presented. Casting and performance were stellar!
Another terrific touch to the film was the reoccurring sight of Satan appearing as the invisible but ubiquitous presence throughout the entire episode. This, too, has solid scriptural foundation. After all, the events which caused Christ's sacrificial death on the cross were first and foremost spiritual in nature. Jesus did not die a martyr's death. He died the death of a Redeemer! As such, the real battle was not against flesh and blood, but against "spiritual wickedness in high places."
The film also clearly presented the fact that Jesus gave His life; it was not taken from Him. He was, after all, the incarnate God giving His life a ransom for man's sin.
Another nice feature to the film was the way in which Gibson used flashbacks into Christ's life and words. I was especially impressed with some of these. For example, we heard Jesus say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." We heard Him warn His disciples of coming persecution, that the servant was not greater than his Lord. We saw Him forgive the woman taken in adultery, etc. The flashbacks greatly enhanced the understanding of one unfamiliar with the Gospel to the significance and meaning of Christ's death on the cross.
My only disappointment was in a couple of events that were left out of the film. For example, after seeing the sky turn black and the earthquake which accompanied Christ's crucifixion, the scripture records the Roman Centurion as saying, "Truly this was the Son of God." That statement was left out. I wish it has been included.
The other noticeable omission (to me) was when Judas and the soldiers approached Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The scriptures say that after Christ identified Himself to them, they "fell backward." That was not shown. I would have liked to have seen that.
I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that "The Passion Of The Christ" is the greatest film ever produced about our Lord's death! It is a masterpiece! I encourage any and all who have not yet seen it to do so as soon as possible. I am certain that God is using this film to touch this Biblically ignorant generation of American people with the powerful message of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross.
As for Christians who have already come to reverence Christ's death for our sins, it is a powerful reminder and reinforcement of what it took to purchase our redemption. For me, the Lord's Table and the message of Calvary will never be the same. I love Him more today than I did before seeing the film. I think you will, too.
© Chuck Baldwin
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