Three Trials of Jesus

I like movies. Well, to be more precise,
I like movies that I like. My tastes are fairly
specific, and sometimes eclectic. If a film
resonates with me, it is not unusual for me to
find a copy somewhere and watch it again
and again and again. Some folks think that is
odd, of course. That’s ok—I happily embrace
‘odd.’ But I enjoy re-watching some works,
primarily because there is always a detail or
three that is missed (I do this with books, too,
by the way). No matter how many times
something is watched (or heard, or read),
there is surely something that we did not
notice the first few times. That’s just the way it
In a casual discussion with a friend a
few days ago he mentioned the movie, The
Passion of the Christ. I am not sure how it
came up, but we both agreed that it was
incredibly moving. It is one of those
productions that evokes a visceral response
in everyone that views it, regardless of their
spiritual foundation. And it is supremely
difficult to sit through, to say the least.
If you have not watched it but plan to
do so, be forewarned—it will floor you. Period.
Here’s why: we typically have a modernized,
western, antiseptic view of Jesus and what
Jesus suffered. Unfortunately, it is
characteristic that we tend to view Christ
through a Renaissance, Raphaelite lens—that
is, the lily-white, physically unassailable,
pristine Jesus. We regularly talk about the
cross and everything that led to it, of course,
but I am not sure that most of us—if any of
us—take time to meditate upon what was
actually done to our Lord and Savior.

Jesus lived in a very different time,
and in a very different place. His world was
pitiless, merciless, ruthless, and cruel. To
say that life in the first century would
offend our 21
-century sensibilities is an
understatement. What happened to Jesus
was brutal and bloody and horrific. For
what it is worth, I am certain that The
Passion of the Christ visually represented
this reality far better than any prior attempt.
In the discussion with my friend, we
each declared that this is a film that we will
never choose to watch again. But I have
been rethinking that over the last few days.
As much as I dread the thought of again
watching that appalling and unspeakable
suffering, maybe I need to do so. And as
much as I warn you about viewing—or reviewing—this accurate depiction of the
torture and execution of Jesus, maybe you
should go ahead and watch it anyway.
You see, I believe our minds
deceive us. We truly have no perspective
on what Jesus suffered. None. Therefore,
we find comfort in remaining blissfully
ignorant about the realities of the Passion.
But the Passion of Jesus was real. It was
brutal. It was bloody. It was horrific. And it
was for us. We need to meditate on that.


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