It was February 2004, and Mel Gibson had just released his movie entitled The Passion of the Christ. Did you see it? Did you want to?
I really didn’t want to go see it. Why? Because even though I knew that Jesus suffered and died a brutal death on the cross for me (and you), to actually see a graphic depiction of it was putting me over the edge.
The movie had only been out 1 week, and I was already hearing from many of my friends at church what an incredible movie it was – how both men and women were sobbing like babies as they watched it.
I heard testimonies of how God was really using this movie to wake people up as to the brutality that Jesus endured, as parts of it were very realistic – particularly the part about how he was beaten and scourged (flogged – John 19:1 NIV). Scourging/flogging was one of the most brutal ways you could be beaten, and often resulted in death. So even though it was just a movie, to me I couldn’t bear to watch even an image of Jesus being beaten to a pulp, just because of His love for you and me.
At the time these particular thoughts were running through my head, I was also studying the book of Hebrews, and of course one day’s lesson was to study briefly about Christ’s sufferings and just what an impact it had for our lives. We were told to turn to Hebrews 12:3, which states that we’re not to lose heart and become weary when we’re going through trials – to remember what Jesus had endured for us!
Of course that brought me to my knees: Forgive me, Lord, for whining; and forgive us all, Lord, for our selfishness and pompous attitudes as we go through our lives…
But my mind was still made up that there was NO WAY that I was going to watch the movie – EVER – until one day about 3 weeks later at church. Gary and I were having coffee in our church’s coffeeshop as we waited for Jeffrey to get out of his Sunday School class. All of a sudden in walked the new women’s ministry director, who came over and started chatting with us in her own friendly way.
It started out innocently enough. I had brought with me that day a book for a friend to borrow entitled One Nation Under Gods by Richard Abanes, which is an excellent book detailing the true history of the Mormon church. The women’s ministry director started asking about the book, which led to all of us at the table getting into a lively conversation about defending the Christian faith.
Then it happened…
All of a sudden the conversation turned to The Passion of the Christ. The women’s director started talking about the impact that it was having on people, and then said, You know, I really didn’t want to see it, but then came to realize that if Jesus could suffer so much for me, could I not in even a small way share in part of the suffering by going to see the movie?
But then she went on: Besides, it’s kind of hard to witness to those outside the Christian faith when you’re afraid to go see the movie yourself!
You know, we all have things that we like to do, and things we don’t like to do. And, we’ve all gone through suffering of one type or another – and I’m sure we didn’t enjoy it! But one thing I think is easy for us to do sometimes is to remember that Jesus really did live on this earth (just like you and me), and He suffered more for us that we can even think or imagine. And He did it willingly.
A lot of people think of Jesus as just a storybook person. My mother believed that for years, and her father had been a Lutheran minister (What’s Being Taught in Our Churches?).
So I was definitely convicted that day that I needed to see the movie. And I did – but I waited to buy it when it came out on DVD! (I know, pretty pathetic.)
And yes, I cried like a baby. However it indeed did make me more aware of the intense love that Jesus has for us. Don’t let His love pass you by…