Mel Gibson's, The Passion of the Christ is one of the most controversial films to be produced in a long time. There is a reason for this - it is one of the most anointed and powerful films produced in a very long time.
I watched it with a small group of invited guests a few weeks ago. It was by far the hardest movie that I have ever watched, but was also the most powerful and impacting. After watching great movies, I often wake up the next day thinking about them, and will often think about them for a few days afterwards. After watching, The Passion, it almost completely dominated my thoughts for days, and now that it has been weeks after I saw it, I still spend time each day pondering it. It touched something within me that deeply.
I don't think there is any question that this is the most accurate, honest portrayal of the crucifixion ever screened. The acting, directing, and overall quality of the movie is excellent, but there is more to it than that. There is an anointing on it. Even before I saw it, I knew it had the power to begin changing Christianity. I know this may sound like a wild exaggeration, but I believe it to be true. It is my earnest prayer that every Christian will see this movie.
Like Deer Caught in the Headlights
It is graphic. It is like watching the torture of the One you love the most for more than an hour. Several times it was so intense that I was about to get up and leave the room, and then, with extraordinary timing, there would be a flashback to a happier time in the Lord's life. I was able to catch my breath, and then I was thrust back to the most terrible day in human history.
I watched this movie with what I thought would be a very tough audience. There were many entertainers, entertainment company executives, and accomplished artists present - the kind of people whose eye for excellence could not but help to cause them to catch every little flaw or mistake. I was stunned by the weeping I heard across the room. When the lights came on at the end, the entire group looked like deer which had been caught in the headlamps of a car. When it was over, Mel walked up front to answer questions, but it was a very, long awkward time before any one could say anything.
It was curious to me how the pope replied after he viewed it, basically saying, "That's the way it was." For one of the most articulate men of our times, who knows many languages, that he could muster only five words in response is in itself a major statement. This movie will probably leave you speechless for a good while.
"I Can't Believe He Would Do That For Me!"
If it is like this watching a movie, which was just an hour and a half, what was it like for His disciples, His mother, and the other women who stayed with Him when He was crucified? After having lived with Jesus for more than three years, coming to know who He was, loving Him, and seeing Him endure what He did for their sakes, was without question the power behind their radical commitment, giving them the willingness to suffer for the gospel that gripped the first century church. What Mel Gibson has produced is just a movie, but it may be as accurate as it can be in a movie, and it has an anointing on it that can help us in the same way. If Jesus did that for us, what must we do for Him?
When we showed a few clips from this movie at our Harvest Fest Conference last September, they were so graphic that I was concerned about having the children see them. Then I heard that after watching the clips, my eleven-year old son and his friends were crying almost uncontrollably. I was alarmed until I heard his response to why he was crying like that. He said simply, "I can't believe God would do that for me!"
His Highest Title is the Lamb
I think that simple statement captures the most basic message of this movie and of the cross itself. The cross has been sanitized and homogenized to the point of losing its power. The Lord did not just die for us - He submitted Himself to the most cruel torture of which demented human minds could conceive. Evil vented its rage on Him with all of the power that it could muster on that day. He took it all for us.
There will never be a more powerful demonstration of the love and character of God than what was demonstrated in the last twelve hours of the Lord's life on this earth as a man. This is why His highest title in heaven, and the one the Scripture implies that He will be called forever, is the Lamb.
Embrace the Cross
We have been prophesying for more than twenty years that the cross would be popular again. The church is going to embrace the cross again. I Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Because the cross "is the power of God," when the church embraces the cross, it can be trusted with the power.
As Paul also said in I Corinthians 4:20, "For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power." For the church to preach the gospel of the kingdom at the end as it is called to do, we must have the power. If we want to experience the power of God in our daily lives, we must take up the cross daily. Great power is coming to the church at the end, and it will come because the church has embraced the cross.
Unfounded Fears of Anti-Semitism
I would like to also say something about the opposition to this movie that has come. To date I do not think that anyone who has seen it has opposed it. The most influential leaders of the church from across the spectrum of Christianity have endorsed it. The fears that it will release anti-Semitism are completely unfounded. In fact, every one of the heroes in this movie are Jewish, as are almost all of the heroes in the gospels, and the entire Bible.
My greatest concern is the way that the extremists who claim to be defending against anti-Semitism are themselves driving many to anti-Semitism by their tactics. This extremist group comes across like the very embodiment of the spirit that hijacked the leadership of Israel under Rome, and was the greatest persecutor of Jesus Himself, just as it is in this important movie about Him.
It will probably hit the news at some point about the extreme things that this small group of Jewish extremists have done to try to keep this movie from being distributed. Their threats and intimidations are backfiring, but many Christians who have traditionally been true friends of Israel are already being tempted to become anti-Semitic because of the behavior of these extremists. We cannot let this happen.
Do Not Judge by Extreme Elements
These extremists probably represent less than 2 percent of the Jewish population. One of the worst deceptions that continues to bring much destruction to mankind is our tendency to judge others, or other people groups, by their most extreme elements. Let us never forget that our Savior was Jewish. The writers of the New Testament were Jewish, as were the writers of the rest of the Scriptures.
The Lord promised Abraham that his seed would be a blessing to all of the families on the face of the earth, and the Jewish people have fulfilled this - they have been the greatest blessing to every nation, people, and culture, and they still are. Their ultimate destiny, which is clear in the Scriptures, will ultimately make the Jewish people again the greatest heroes of truth and righteousness. Do not let a handful of radical extremists rob you of your support and loyalty for not only God's chosen people, but also for His purposes in our times that will be revealed through them.
Also, do not let them rob you of seeing this movie. It does have the power to begin a profound change of Christianity in our times - which is desperately needed.