Summary: I was struck with how “in control” Jesus was, even when events were transpiring around him and people were doing disturbing things to Him.
Meek Does Not Mean Weak
This past Tuesday Pastor Jeff and I had had the opportunity to view a screening of the film called, “The Passion of the Christ” with about 4,000 other pastors. We should have known we were in for an unforgettable experience when we saw boxes of Kleenex arrayed on tables scattered throughout the auditorium. The movie focuses on the last hours of the life of Jesus, with the opening scene taking place in the Garden of Gethsemane. The film, produced by Mel Gibson, is both beautiful and bold as it captures the cost that Christ paid for our sins. I found the portrayal to be biblically accurate, emotionally gripping, and spiritually moving. As someone has said, “This is not simply a movie; it’s an encounter.”
The film opens in theaters around the country one month from today on February 25th. I hope you’ll see it and bring a seeking friend with you. Actually, I don’t recommend this movie for children, or even for teenagers, as it will be rated “R” for violence. I believe the “R” rating in this case stands for “reality.” There are parts of this movie that will make you want to turn away, especially during the interminable scourging scenes, the walk to Golgotha with the cross, and the crucifixion. I was talking to a student from Pontiac Christian School this week about the movie. He asked me what it was about and I told him that it was graphic and disturbing. Very perceptively, he added, “Well, then it must be accurate because that’s how it really was.” I continue to be thankful for the impact that our excellent teachers and staff are having on the students at PCS.
This movie was a vivid reminder that it was my sins that put Jesus through what He went through. I think this will be the reaction of many who see it. During the Q & A after the showing, Mel Gibson mentioned that an agnostic from the Hollywood community sat in stunned silence following a screening of the film. After a few minutes, he said just four words: “I’m sorry. I forgot.” Gibson was also asked if the movie was “over the top” since there is so much blood. His answer was very interesting. He said something like this: “The Old Covenant demanded a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. I guess Jesus could have just pricked his finger to get some blood but He didn’t. He went all the way…and I wanted to show that.”
As I watched and wept during much of the movie (I think I had tears streaming down my face for at least 30 of the 90 minutes), I was struck with how “in control” Jesus was, even when events were transpiring around him and people were doing disturbing things to Him. The religious leaders and stonehearted soldiers played their part, looking confused, angry, and even disillusioned, but Jesus never lost His cool. At one point, after Judas had betrayed Jesus, and the soldiers got into a scuffle with the disciples, Peter whacked off the ear of one of those sent to arrest his leader. Amazingly, in the midst of this conflict Jesus demonstrates grace and compassion by miraculously reattaching the man’s ear, showing again what it means to have power under control.
Matthew 26:53 tells us what Jesus said: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” A legion was 6,000 angels, so Jesus was talking about 72,000 angelic warriors! All He had to do was say the word and the soldiers would be incinerated, but He held back. Later, when He’s face-to-face with Pilate, Jesus continues to show that He’s in control by remaining quiet.
In John 19:9-10, Pilate is disarmed by His demeanor: “Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’” Jesus answers in verse 11: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” Then, for much of the rest of the time, as Jesus is bounced between Herod and Pilate, Jesus chooses to be silent in the face of accusations. This is a clear fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
As I watched the action on the screen, and was reminded of how Jesus was quiet when He could have rightfully complained, or even extinguished the evildoers, I immediately thought of the third Beatitude: “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” Jesus modeled meekness and now establishes this trait as a defining characteristic for the Christian.