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The Passion of My Christ

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By request, here follows my review of The Passion of The Christ. As a disclaimer, I am a Christian of over slightly more than one short year and am no expert. Instead, I count on God working within my heart to guide me in all things, this review included.

In the months leading up to the release of The Passion, I had serious doubts about Mel Gibson’s ability to portray God properly. With the reports of his serial infidelity, hurtful comments about a former business partner, his father’s various controversial stances on religion and politics; I was concerned that Gibson would use the movie to open old wounds or advance his own flavor of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism. While no longer a practicing Catholic in the exclusive sense, I consider myself Christian and therefore a member of what’s referred to as the body of Christ which extends beyond any specific banner. Because of this I see the Vatican II as a major breakthrough in the spiritual development for my brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church.

In the end, regardless of my trepidations about Mr. Gibson, I had to forego judgment of him as a person and leave my opinion to rest solely upon his art. Christ came to help those that could see their own sin, not those that thought they didn’t need his help; and if he decided to use this man to touch the hearts of people then who am I to argue? I sincerely hope that making the movie was a rich spiritual exercise for all involved, and that it brought them closer to God.

So on to the movie itself. When my church purchased a theater for Saturday morning and sold tickets for five bucks a piece, I signed up for two tickets in the hope that I could encourage someone that wanted to know more about Jesus to come with me. I’ve got friends with questions about Christianity, and as a baby Christian I feel insufficient in my ability to speak to them properly about something so important. My hope was that the movie would speak with power and insight to the hearts of people that knew little about Jesus, enticing them to start their own personal study. In the end it turned out that my Dad joined me and I was just as happy to have his company.

The main problem with previous movies I’ve seen that portrayed Jesus was that they were largely factual recountings of him as a historical figure. He went here, did this miracle, said that teaching. The man’s stated purpose was to win our hearts to him, it’s only fitting that an artistic representation of him should try capture us emotionally. It is this aspect of the movie I’m most interested in.

The greatest accomplishment of The Passion of The Christ was its portrayal of the character of Jesus. I’m absolutely fascinated by this man who had such character as to convince droves of critical humans, even his own brother, that he was the son of a living God. At the start of the movie, we see Jesus struggle with his fate, but not his desire to do God’s will. Even though Satan stands by him and taunts him while Jesus prays to God, he does not question his Father’s wisdom and sovereignty over him. Once sure of his mission, he rises and crushes the snake that Satan has put beside him. With a stern look in his eyes, we see a Jesus that is rarely portrayed in retellings of his life: confident and determined.

Throughout the movie, Jesus speaks powerfully with his eyes. When he healed the solider, you could see that he was setting straight inside him more than the sinew that held the flesh of his ear to his head. The mixture of distaste for the sins of Mary Magdalene and compassion for her shines through. Even a short glance at one of King Herod’s guards brings the man to shame at his sin. Each time I felt a volume of communication coming from those eyes that could not be said with words. Perhaps that was an artistic license taken by Mr. Gibson, but it served the story well. Jim Caviezel did an excellent job of speaking with his eyes, I’d say without insult the best part of his performance.

Often while reading thinly pressed pages of printed word, I forget about the integrity of Jesus. This part of the movie really jumped out at me. He was a man who not only said meaningful things about how we should relate to God and each other, but when he lived them. He was a man of his word, an outstanding example of integrity, whether you believe him to be the son of God or not. He didn’t just pontificate, he lived his teachings right to the very end. Jesus didn’t have any scandal, he didn’t have any caveat – a quality sorely lacking from our current leadership.

In the end, I think The Passion of The Christ is a great movie. If anything, it leaves me wanting a prequel. It should give all interested in Jesus a better understanding of what he was like. We live in a time where I think most Christians would agree that the biggest problem facing us as a body is knowing with our heads and not our hearts. When we make our worship or our prayer routine, we can miss the essence of the holy spirit. Gibson got us talking about Jesus, what we do with the discussion is up to us.

I think we all owe Mr. Gibson a big thanks for putting himself on the line to try and bring that spirit back into our lives. For trying to bring the message of Jesus to people that don’t know him, only God can reward him properly. I hope he, and all those that worked on the movie, make it through the pearly gates to meet scores of people that he helped open their hearts to Christ.

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About Will Pate

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Will, very powerful review. I’m glad it was such a positive experience for you.