RELIGION: Passion of the Christ

"The Passion of the Christ" was a movie that came out in 2004 which featured the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. I liked it -- still do -- because of its bold depiction of the characters involved in the event, and its resolute, unblinking depiction of what happened to Jesus immediately before and during the time he was nailed to a Roman cross. I believe it is a movie we all need to see.

I noticed, though, that many movie critics didn't like it. And one of the primary reasons they gave for panning the film was that it was "graphically and gratuitously violent and bloody."


I could point out that many of these same critics didn't have a problem with "graphic and gratuitously violent and bloody" films in nearly any other genre. I could point out that the film was rated "R" and thus was necessarily going to include some visually jarring moments. I could speculate that maybe the critics had grown up – like me – watching crucifixion movies which were basically bloodless.

I'll just go with this: the critics missed the point of the violence and blood because the violence and blood was the point.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a prophet named Isaiah described what Jesus would look like when the Romans got through with him: "Many people were shocked when they saw him. His appearance was so damaged he did not look like a man. His form was changed so much they could barely tell he was human." – Isaiah 52:14 (ICB)

That would seem tragic. And for many, needless violence for no purpose other than the degradation and humiliation of another human being. Many of the movie's critics said the same things. And again, missed the point. The point that the prophet Isaiah also addressed, when he gave the reason for the death of Messiah: "We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've [ever] done wrong, on him." -- Isaiah 53:6 (MSG)

Many people -- even some believers -- like the fluffy, feel-good Christianity that requires little more than being nice to others and trying to live a good life. And it's entirely possible that they're missing the point, too. And the point is this: there is nothing we can do on our own -- nothing -- that qualifies us for heaven. Being nice to others won't do it. Living a good life won't. Both King David and the Apostle Paul give the reason why: "There is no one righteous, not even one." -- Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10 (NIV) No one can stand before God and plead his own righteousness is good enough to get into heaven.

So what is it that makes us eligible for paradise? Very simply, it is the sacrifice of Christ. It is the fact that God loved us enough to die for us, taking the penalty for our sins and providing a "free pass" to the Promised Land. And all we need to do to get that pass is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and accept the free gift provided by that sacrifice.

Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (OK, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected].