Summary: Part 1 of a series based on Mel Gibson’s film "The Passion of the Christ." Portions of this sermon were derived from sermons given by Sermon Central designed with the same intent.
Experience The Passion… Part 1:
“Experience Pure Love”
It’s a blood-fest. In fact, it’s probably one of the most violent films that’s ever been made. Full of disturbing images of evil and horrific scenes of brutality it’s stirred up more controversy than any other film since “The Last Temptation of Christ.” As a work of art, the buzz has been phenomenal. Perhaps this was the kind of clatter that took place after da Vinci coded the final color on to his Last Supper. Who knows? And what many predicted to be a total failure grossed $216 million in its first week.
The cinemas have been sold out for many of the showings with people filling the theaters long before the show even begins. And no is asking the question, “Did you enjoy the movie?” because it’s not a movie to be enjoyed.
Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ is an experience. It’s as if you are actually there to watch the final hours of the life of Jesus. You’re there experiencing the agony of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. You watch as Jesus is arrested and is tried and you cringe as he is flogged. You’re among the crowd on the hill observing the crucifixion. And you shed tears with Mary as her son’s lifeless body is taken down from the cross. At the end of the film when Jesus is raised from the dead you’re left wishing you could see more…
Perhaps what makes this movie so powerful is not the violence but the fact that we know that this piece of human history is so central to who we are. What seems to set this film apart as being different from other violent movies is the fact that the story is a story that means so much to us. Whether you’re a Christian or not, you’ve got to recognize that there’s no other event in the history of humanity that has shaped the world the way the life and death of Jesus Christ has done. Our calendar is based upon his life.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, let me encourage you to go see it. Please keep in mind this is not a film for all ages. Children should not be in the audience and preteens might get nightmares from all the gore and the supernatural stuff that takes place.
The reason that I believe that it’s so important to see this movie is that when you see it, the story that you’ve heard told for so many years becomes real. We wear crosses on necklaces and sing hymns about the beautiful cross. But what we’ve forgotten over the past two millennia is that the crucifixion was a horrific form of execution. This film gives you a new understanding of what actually happened.
It’s a film that you feel deep within your emotions. As I watched the film tears were constantly running down my cheeks. It’s one that’s experienced with intensity. You can’t help but feel the shame as well as the pain.
The thing that may surprise you the most, is that as you watch you realize that never once did Jesus use his God-given powers to lash out or get even…not once! The Bible tells us that He had used his power to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind, and even raise the dead. It would have been nothing for him to have spoken a word and to have brought the forces of heaven to bear upon his persecutors. The book of John tells us that he was present in the beginning of time, and if he could speak a word and birth creation into being, how much would it really have taken to have said a word and brought stopped this terrible events from taking place?
Yet Jesus did nothing to reveal any inclination towards retaliation. Rather than responding in an Arnold Schwarzenegger sort of way and pulling out his weapons and unleashing his fury, Christ absorbed the anger and accepted the abuse.
It raises the question, “Why?” Why would Christ have chosen to suffer like he did? Why would he have gone through that if he had the power to resist it? What was it that enabled him to resist any temptation to get even? Was Jesus some sort of meek and mild weakling who didn’t have the courage to stand up for himself? Or, was there something else going on?
In the introduction to the film the words from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah are seen. It’s the passage you heard read this morning.
Isaiah is called the messianic prophet because he wrote so much about the Messiah who was to come. Messiah is a Hebrew word that means “The anointed of God.” In the New Testament the same word rendered in the Greek is the title Christ. Christ also means “the anointed of God.” So Messiah and Christ are actually synonyms.