I know we all love our books, but sometimes we also like to watch a great movie. Last week, I actually had an assignment in my NT class to watch the movie, The Passion of the Christ for the purpose of contrasting it with Scripture itself. I thought I would share my thoughts with you concerning it.
Although as the critics like to say, it is not 100% Scriptural, it is my opinion that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ does a tremendous portrayal of the purpose of Jesus Christ’s life (John 18:37, John 10:10), as well as, revealing the high cost involved to obtain salvation for those who would believe in Him.
The movie begins with a heart-wrenching scene of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although dramatized for Hollywood’s purposes, Gibson’s effort to depict Christ’s struggle in gaining strength for the mission at hand as He prayed to the Father for the cup to pass from Him is a good portrayal of the Scripture as found in Matthew 26:37-39. Scripture tells us that Jesus was strengthened by an angel to complete His mission (Luke 22:43). One could see the strength rise in Jesus as He stood tall and stomped on the head of the serpent. Although this scene is not found in the passion narrative, it does reveal the truth of Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel,” which reveals the victory that will be accomplished through His impending suffering and death.
Satan did not know the plan of God for the salvation of the world through the death of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:8); however, the statement he makes to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that it is too much to expect one man to die for the souls of sinners, powerfully explains what was taking place – one man dying for many.
Another scene that was embellished, yet displayed powerful truths, was the scene where Jesus is arrested. In the movie, there was a fight that took place before taking Jesus captive, however, Scripture shows us that only Peter drew a sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus then rebuked Peter and healed the man’s severed ear. In other words, Jesus gave Himself up freely.
There are many things found in the movie that are not in Scripture such as: (1) the disciples referring to Mary as Mother which reflects a Roman Catholic bias; (2) Jesus was dropped over a bridge, hanging just above the ground with His eyes meeting those of Judas Iscariot; (3) Jesus praying “Rise up. Defend me. Save me from the traps they lay for me;” (4) the remembrance scenes of life with Jesus such as falling as a child, building a high table, etc.; (5) kids hassling Judas after the betrayal; (6) the member of the Sanhedrin stating at the trial that Jesus taught not to pay tribute to the Roman consul; (7) the beating along the road to Calvary (although that may have well been the practice); (8) Mary saying to Jesus, “My Son let me die with you;” (9) women wiping up the blood at the place of the scourging.
On the otherhand, there were some scenes that portrayed what I think are very important aspects of the passion. They included: (1) Jesus prophecy of Peter’s three-time denial of Him and the denials were shown in the story (Matthew 26:69-75). (2)The scene portraying Matthew 26:63 -64 where the high priest asked Jesus: “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” and Jesus responds: “You have said it yourself: nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven” is an important scene and flows with Scripture. Jesus unequivocally declared His identity at this moment; and, this is what got Him crucified. (3) Pilate’s hesitation to condemn Jesus as well as his wife’s warning (John 18-19; Matthew 27:19). (4) The robber on the cross mocking Jesus and the other, displaying His belief and trust in Jesus resulting in Jesus’ response to the man that he would join him in paradise that day. (5) Pilate telling Jesus that he had authority to release Him or crucify Him and Jesus responding that Pilate only has power that has been given to Him from above (John 19:10-11). (6) The empty tomb at the end
The movie displayed the message of the gospel well, although there were things in the telling that were embellished or left out. However, when moving from a literary genre to a Hollywood production, one would expect to find some embellishment, additions, and deletions of Scripture, and some error in the timing for certain oral depictions; and, all of that was found in the movie. Nonetheless, the movie displayed some key elements that witness the heart of God’s plan for the salvation of those who will believe on Christ. Therefore, I would definitely recommend it to anyone whether believer or nonbeliever. In fact, I have.