After viewing Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ last week, I now know why certain people have criticized this controversial movie.
However, violence isn’t the issue. I’ve seen more violence in other films. And unlike other Hollywood films that show violence just for the sake of violence, this movie has a reason behind it.
It’s not because the film is anti-Semitic either. Some of the heroes in the movie like John and Mary are Jewish. Jesus himself, the protagonist, is Jewish. It was the Romans who actually carried out the crucifixion and lashings — in a very unflattering way I might add. Their demeanor in the film is far more repulsive.
No, the people complaining about the content of the film are really, in effect, complaining about the content of the book. The content of The Passion is, to the best of my knowledge, about as true to the Bible as a movie can get. So when people criticize the content of the movie, they are criticizing messages found in the four Gospels.
What is this controversial message that the Gospels tell?
It’s the 2,000-year-old message that claims the Creator came down in human form to live a sinless life and die at the hands of His creation. He was to die — a horrible death as depicted by the film — and rise again to conquer death and Hell and to take our just punishment for us.
He freely paid the debt that we owed. Jesus, concerning His life, said in John 10:18, “No man taketh it 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 commandment have I received of my Father.” He freely gave his life because that was the only way we could be redeemed from our sins.
There’s a word many people don’t like: sin. Humans, by nature, do not like to admit that they have sinned. If they admit that they have sinned, they have to face the fact they are not worthy of going to Heaven — that is if they even believe in such a place.
People, who don’t want to face the fact that they are doing something wrong, don’t want to admit that there is a punishment for that wrong. They find it more comfortable to reject any notion of eternal punishment for their wrongdoing.
These types of people often call Christians “weak” for believing that there is a Heaven and a Hell. The real weakness is when someone tries to pretend that there is no Heaven and no Hell in order to excuse their sins and not face up to the fact that they need a way out.
They believe themselves to be above the “childlike” notion of good and evil. They are far too sophisticated for this mode of thinking. They are unwilling to admit that, as the movie depicts, God came down in human form to go through a vast amount of torture and relentless agony to save us measly little sinners from eternal punishment in Hell. Revelation 1:5 describes Christ as “him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
It was all of humanity’s fault that Jesus died. Despite what some anti-Semites might say, no one group can be blamed for killing Him. All of our sins put him on that cross. There was no other way that we could be redeemed. That’s another fact that is hard for many people to swallow: The fact that each and every one of us is responsible for killing the only perfect man to ever walk the face of the earth — God.
That’s the essence of what bothers so many people about this film. It’s not the violence or the alleged anti-Semitism. It’s the message that there is a God who judges us for our sins and the only way to escape judgment is through making Jesus our substitute.
Adam Fowler is a junior majoring in political science.