The Unseen Burden of The Passion of the Christ
By Guy Cramer
Mel Gibson’s depiction of the story of Jesus crucifixion and death on the cross “The Passion of the Christ” is a cinematic improvement over previous versions of the story in that the acting, sets, special effects and cinematography was of the high quality we have come to expect from large budget films.
“You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family” You can choose where you live but you can’t choose your race. As a person with a Jewish heritage, I was well aware of the anti-Semitism connection a few very vocal people were placing on this film depiction of the actions of the Jewish people regarding their part in Jesus death. I did not see this film as anti-Semitic and it should be noted that Christ did not hold the Jews accountable:
New King James Version (NKJV)
18No one takes it (life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."
I watched the film from a slightly different perspective than most people would. My thoughts during the movie; if I was alive at the time of Jesus and present in the crowd during the trial and crucifixion, without knowing this was the Son of God, would I have been an accuser or a follower of Jesus from the events as they panned out, It likely would have depended on me believing at the trial if he was the Messiah (Christ) or just a teacher, notice that in the last supper account in Matthew 26:20-25 all the disciples when told by Jesus that one would betray him, they all answered one after the other "Lord, is it I?" except for Judas who responded, "Rabbi, is it I?" He did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah; he believed he was a religious leader (teacher). Thus if Jesus was just a teacher his remarks and claims would have seemed as absolute blasphemy against God.
After waiting a month to see the film with much apprehension, the punishment scenes were as grotesque as I expected but was not as focused as I was led to believe, many of the scenes cut to the reaction of others around him so while you are still hearing the flogging you are not watching every hit over and over. While the editing was able to flash back to previous points in Jesus life to give us the breather we needed at the appropriate times, this visual story failed to convey what the written word of God explains about the reasons and the true cost that occurred during this time.
Many who see this movie may think, “If I am a good person or I do good things then I should be accepted into heaven, regardless of Jesus crucifixion or my belief in Him as the Son of God”
9who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
20Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
16knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
38And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
11…For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
While good works without Jesus do not make way for an eternal relationship with God, once we believe in the Son of God we are motivated to do good works.
14who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
14And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Jesus a carpenter who worked with wood and nails during his life was crucified with the same tools. This physical punishment Jesus endured, we all deserved for our sinful nature, but even if we were to go through the same scenario until death, this alone would not make us worthy to be in the presence of our absolute Holy God in heaven. Even the best we do in our lives is incomparable to the holiness of God. Jesus lived a life without sin, he was to be sacrificed and atone for all of our sins, he was the perfect sin offering (the lamb without blemish).
18knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
22"Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"
15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
12Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
14… offered Himself without spot to God, …
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
22in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—
5For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus
I went to the movie with two close friends and during our discussion and reflection on the movie afterwards one reminded me of the verse in a worship song “I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross” Did he take on our sin, become sin, was sin with him, on him or in him when he became the offering?
28so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
24who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
Christ's Suffering and Ours
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
13Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),
12But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
25whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, (as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin) through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins
4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
2And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
17that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
"He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses."
4who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,
7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
6knowing this, that our old man (our old self) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Why did Jesus have to go through this? Because he had to;
46Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Isn’t there some other way?
13For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
31So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved
43To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
23that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer.
God knows exactly what you are trying to say through prayer, he knows your your heart and is not so concerned with your words sounding right as He is with the attitude of your heart. But he does ask us to pray and even if you feel it in your heart you need to vocalize it and communicate with God. The following is a suggested prayer:
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner, thanks you for sending your son Jesus to take my sins past, present and future and place them upon the Cross. I thank you for His death and resurrection to make me right with you, providing me eternal life. I want Jesus to be in my life, to guide me away from further sin, to make me passionate for good works to meet urgent needs and so that others may see your glory through me. Amen
You cannot lose your salvation once you have it. You can lose your rewards in Heaven if you fall away but you cannot lose your eternal salvation.
God motivates us to continue on the right path with the promises of rewards in heaven, the one thief on the cross who believed in Jesus in his final moments was promised that he would be with Jesus in paradise, he may have received eternal salvation, but he likely had few rewards awaiting him. To provide a crude example; Billy Graham may shine like a 100-watt light bulb for eternity in heaven but this thief while also in heaven after death may only look like 1 watt. We only have this lifetime to make our decisions. Use it wisely!
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This material is Copyright © 2004, by Guy Cramer, All Rights Reserved.
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