Yesterday night we went to see The Passion of The Christ in an ‘exclusive preview’ in Almere.
What did I think of it… actually, I don’t know. It touched me, but probably not as much as I had expected. It was more biblical than I thought, but yes, there was quite a number of catholic, mystic and theatrical elements in it. It made me re-read the true story in the gospels when we got home – it struck me how many conversations in the movie are taken litterally from the Bible – but it is indeed a Mel Gibson version of the gospels. It struck me how well movie techniques like flashbacks fitted into the story. And yes, it confronted me with the fact that Jesus died innocent, for me. He went through all this for me…
The strength of the movie (the confrontation with the suffering of Christ) is also its weakness. By showing only a portion of the whole story of Jesus, you don’t get to know Him throughout the movie. All of a sudden, there is this man being beaten and tortured, making you wonder why this all is happening – especially when you’re not so much into christianity. At the same time, this is an intriguing question that hopefully makes people go look for the answer.
An interesting question is whether the emphasis on the physical suffering is (biblically) correct. The movie exposes every cruel detail of the beating, whipping, torturing, crucifixion. This is very much opposite to the Bible, that is very reluctant in the description of the suffering: “…after He was scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”. But, when you think of it, the suffering was as real as it was shown in the movie: scourging must have torn Jesus’ back apart, it must have taken forever… “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities […] we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” So, it that sense, I guess it is not incorrect to visualise it.
But I think there is another (psychological) effect that cannot be ignored. The movie hits you hard. However, the more you see the movie with the cruelty and suffering in detail, the less the impact is. It’s sad but it’s true: you will get used to it. On the other hand: the more you read the story from the Bible, the more it will impact you, simply because each separate verse has a whole story behind it. You’ll need to do some effort to get the picture, but I think when you get it, it has more of a lasting effect. Probably that is the strenght of the written word, and that is why the Bible is written as it is.
Can I put it like this: the movie hits you hard but short, the Bible hits you slowly but surely?
Do you have to see it? My answer is no. For a blood-red picture of Jesus and a headstart introduction to the meaning of the cross: yes, go see it. For a full-color picture of Him and in-depth understanding of the story of God and man, reading the bible and learning from Christians is probably a better way.
But then again: many will see it. If we, Christians, want to be prepared for the questions, want to be able to introduce Jesus and the full gospel to them, maybe it is a good idea to go and see.
And as I said: it touched me, but probably not as much as I had expected. Is this because of the movie or because of me? Was I really open to be impacted? Do I really understand what Jesus went through? Can I even remotely relate to his suffering? I am still wondering…