By Rev Frank McKeown
I enjoy watching a good movie and I have my favourite film stars - Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
Over the years there have been some movies which have made me feel uncomfortable. One such movie was Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
At the time it was shown in cinemas around the world it was one of the most talked about films in years. In its first five days in America it earned $125.5 million dollars - at that time the third most successful five-day opening in history. That is even better business than The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.
The critics found themselves divided. They all agreed that the film moved beyond the text of Scripture at times.
Some critics applauded the portrayal of Jesus’ final 12 hours while others threw rotten tomatoes. Nevertheless, they all agreed that watching it was an excruciating experience.
For many, seeing Jesus’ torments vividly, graphically and relentlessly illustrated only served to heighten their appreciation of Christ’s love for mankind. For others, Gibson’s hyper-realistic violence was gratuitous, an act of cruelty carried out upon the audience by an agenda-driven, heavy-handed, insensitive director.
I came across this quote from an American Christian who was interviewed immediately after watching the film. He said: “Never again will I be able to mention the death of my Lord without flinching inside. Nor will I be able take the bread and wine of Communion without a sense of dread for the cost of my redemption.”
One thing this film most certainly can claim is to have made us have a more realistic understanding of what the Son of God endured, what He suffered to make it possible for us to be brought back into a right relationship, a saving relationship with God.
At each stage of Jesus’ torture, we are reminded that he prophesied these very events and that he willingly and courageously gave himself up to them.
Maybe to be reminded of Christ’s suffering is just what we need in our day.
The words “Jesus died for us” can be said so easily. We have allowed what took place at Calvary just to be an event we gloss over at Easter time. May we begin to appreciate what was involved in the Saviour`s death. Pick up a Bible and read the final chapters of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
As you contemplate Calvary - as you think about what happened to the Son of God - may you be moved by what the Saviour suffered for you.
May you be moved by His great love for you. May you be moved to want to know more about this suffering Saviour - not more facts about Him, but to know him personally through faith in Him.