Summary: That Christ is preached through a movie for the masses is great news, what we need to be clear on about Christ and what can we then do.
The Passion of the Christ: A Prophetic Voice Crying in Our Wilderness
10 days from today - Feb. 25, 2004, a prophetic voice will be crying out in our cultural landscape. A voice that is, perhaps, preparing the way for many people to encounter the person of Jesus Christ in a way previous generations never had. Movie theatres round the world will be opening their doors to the screening of the much-publicized Mel Gibson flick, The Passion of the Christ. The world is and will be talking about Christ in the public arena.
Gibson desires that this movie would help change lives and lead to the message of grace, love and forgiveness of sins. And how should we treat this movie? Some here don’t even go to movies at all or seldom do. Some say it’s too gruesome to watch this R rated violence. Some in the world are getting offended by it. So shall we just dismiss it or is it an opportunity? Turn with me in the Bible to Philippians 1:15-18
15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:15-18 (NIV)
This is what we should be doing as this movie comes out: rejoice. Yes, rejoice that Christ is preached in a fresh and new way. Look at Philippians 1:15-18 closely with me. Paul could have gone and started a row about the motives of others when it comes to preaching about Christ. He could have spent lots of energy criticizing others who were troubling him while he was in chains. But he says, “what does it matter?” For Paul, what matters is this- Christ is preached and he is just jumping for joy that Christ’s message is proclaimed.
Christians round the world should say along with Paul the Apostle: “And because of this I rejoice.” Let’s not care what the motives are, let us pray that people will seriously take a good long hard look at the person of Christ and be informed and be changed forever. Paul was happy that the good news gets to be shared. Look at the reaction Gibson’s movie has already generated and this even before the movie is out:
1. Newsweek (Feb 16 issue) has it on their cover. They call the story of the Passion of Jesus “the final chapter of the most influential story in Western history.” They acknowledged Mel Gibson’s movie as “a powerful and troubling work about Jesus’ last hours.” It is interesting that Newsweek does not question that Jesus did die and was resurrected. It is most interesting that they say it’s a “troubling work” because I suspect, the world is confronted with the violence of the cross on this one unusual yet inspiring figure in history and it changed the world. Since these are undeniable historical events the author of the Newsweek article in an underhanded way sought to imply - let’s not get overboard with the literal statements in the Bible because that made persecuting the Jews an OK thing to do in history. So they wrote “But the Bible can be a problematic source…Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events.” In other words, what Newsweek wants people to believe is that the Bible can’t be trusted to tell the truth about Jesus. It’s slanted to provoke an uncritical faith and not tell the true story. In short, the Newsweek article says, “don’t believe what the Bible actually says.”