by Paul Uhls
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I went to see the Mel Gibson film, “The Passion of the Christ” last night.
Like most, I am still struggling to process all I saw in the film. To some extent, having seen it several days after its release, and after hearing and reading so many other’s thoughts about it, I guess I was less shocked by the horrendous amount of violence than I might have initially been. I was, however, taken aback by the unimaginable pain and suffering one man was willing to take.
I too sat in silence for several minutes after the end of the film, and listened to the sobs and sniffles of others around me. Very little was spoken between me and my wife on our way home as I attempted to reconcile in my mind the visions I’d had over the years about what happened to my Lord and what I’d just seen portrayed on the screen.
I have never read the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and thought, “The Jews did this to Him.” Nor can I understand how anyone could watch this film and think the same. I am too struck by what Jesus suffered and what role I played in that suffering to think about anyone else.
But, after taking some time to think about it all, I have a confession to make: I’m not sure I was moved in the same way I’ve heard virtually everyone else say they were moved.
You know what I saw in that movie last night?
I watched, sensed and felt the overwhelming Power of our Almighty God!
From the opening sequence, after watching Jesus sweat blood in anguish, and spiritually wrestle with ever-present evil, I watched Him stomp the head of the snake with Power.
I watched as He healed the ear of a man who was there to arrest him. Among the fighting with swords and knives, Jesus displayed his Power.
I watched this man take more physical abuse than any one man would ever be able to stand, and I watched the surprise on the Roman soldier’s faces when Jesus stood up. Power.
I watched a Man who’d been flogged to within an inch of His life fearlessly tell the most politically powerful man in that area that he had no Power over Him. Even when offered a chance at freedom, He held firm with Power.
I saw a Man – a Man of unending peace – who rocked the spiritual and political leadership of the day to its very core because of His Power. This is a Man who never raised a violent hand to anyone, yet the whole city reached near riot conditions. Since that time, wars have been fought, whole cultures have been annihilated, kingdoms have fallen, and our world still battles over faith in Him, all because of the Power He held and still holds.
I saw a Man, who by any rational thought should have already been dead, carry a cross that other healthy men struggled to move. By himself, for some distance. Power.
I watched as this Man was literally nailed to a cross, and then prayed forgiveness for those who swung the hammer. With Power.
I shed a tear when He unselfishly pardoned a man next to Him. Beaten and flogged, bleeding to death, He didn’t cry for Himself. With Power, He assured a criminal that he would be in paradise.
I watched a Man who didn’t die at the will of men, but only when He gave up His spirit to God the Father. Even now, we say things like, “We killed Him. I am responsible for His death.” And in a spiritual sense, that is ever so true. But physically, even though it was ultimately His destiny to die for our sins, we still could not kill Him on our terms. He died according to the will and the plan of the Almighty God. No amount of beating and torture could change it. He died on His terms. That’s Power.
I watched a Man’s death shake the Earth, and tear the temple in two, and send all those who had been laughing and mocking and hitting only moments earlier running in fear. No other man has enough Power even in life to shake the Earth. Let alone by His death.
I saw blood and water flow from his side with Power. The Roman soldier who pierced his side had probably played in a part in hundreds of other’s deaths. Yet he was awed by the Power.
I’d heard all the reports from others about the stunned silence of moviegoers during this film, so I must admit I was surprised at myself, and too intimidated to do what I wanted to do; which was to stand up and scream, “Glory and Honor!” As I watched Him die, I couldn’t help but think that no other man’s life or death has ever had, or ever will have, the impact on this world as His. I was in awe! When the stone rolled away a few minutes later, and I saw Jesus standing there anew, I wanted to shout out again!
After 2000 years, this man’s death is still shaking the world. Name me one other person who died nearly two millennia ago who could generate so much controversy. Forget that! Name me anybody period who has the kind of influence over the events of the world Jesus does. How a relatively low budget film about one Man’s death would rock the world as this has. Nobody has that kind of Power.
You know, we can make a film with false accusations about Jesus, and while it will be lauded as artistic, it is also easily dismissed with little fanfare. There have been other films or documentaries about Jesus that have generated to some degree debate, but for the most part, those are lowly, pathetic, forgotten films that had no real impact on those of faith and those without.
So why is this film any different? One could argue that it was produced by a Hollywood heavyweight like Mel Gibson and point to that as the source of its giant publicity. Or one could point to the anti-Semitic message it supposedly offers.
But that’s not it.
It’s the Power of the Truth. The Truth of Scripture. The Truth of Jesus Himself. You can confront people all day with falsehoods, and they can turn their back with ease. But when you confront someone with the Truth of Christ, they have to face it. They have to make a decision. And if they attempt not to, the spiritual struggle that happens within their soul will never allow for rest. The Power of the Truth of Jesus, and the Power of the Cross is one that cannot, under any circumstances, be dismissed. People spend their whole lives running from it, only to be confronted by it with their own mortality. Everyone knows they have to face it one day, whether they want to or not, and this movie has thrown that Truth and that Power into people’s faces far sooner than many of them ever wanted.
That’s why this movie has shaken the world. Because it is about Jesus, and Jesus has been shaking the world since the dawn of time.
I left in pain -- pain for what Jesus had to endure. And make no mistake, I am now doing, and will continue for some time to do, some deep soul-searching on the realization of the atrocities this Man was willing to suffer for me. But I also left thrilled and awed. Because this one Man, with Power, was able to take the very worst we could throw at Him and turn it into a Victory for us all! Under no circumstances did I leave happy. But I did indeed leave with a renewed sense of how truly great my Lord and Savior is.
I recommend this film, and each who sees it will have to come to their own conclusions about how it makes them feel.
I hurt, and I am renewed.
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Reader Count & Comments
I am so glad I read this article. You have highlighted areas in this entry that many people might have missed, and myself. Truth and Power come to the forefront. I was incensed by the suffering and abuse that our Saviour had to endure and wondered if these were not over done, but the Power of Jesus comes through loud and clear now that you have pointed it out. Truth I've always seen as the essence of His being. Thanks so much for sharing.
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