There are few films that evoke the kind of emotions in the viewer that may have been felt by those who witnessed the final hours of Jesus’ life like The Passion of the Christ.
We watched the movie as a church this evening. It is the first time that I have watched since it was released in 2004. And for good reason. I just couldn’t watch it again but I made myself tonight.
While I know that it is a movie, I could not distance myself emotionally from what was depicted. And I guess I should not be able to. There is something so disturbingly horrifying to what Jesus endured. While the movie attempts to capture the physical realities, and I think the movie does a good job of pulling you into the emotional turmoil, it is the spiritual weight of what was happening that left me staggering yet again.
There is simply or human no way of touching this. And yet, this is what I find myself, as a believer in the one who was crucified, sensing most poignantly. The freedom I feel because of my faith in Jesus is rooted in the sacrifice of the Son of God. The hope that I have that my soul has been redeemed has been purchased by the shed blood of the Lamb of God. The peace that I have experienced in times of difficulty has been released unto me because of the promises of the Prince of Peace.
The reality of Easter is that in and through the death of Jesus life awaits for those who place their trust in Him. If we are to recapture the power of the Gospel, if we are to see the body of Christ infused with zeal, if we are to return, as a people, to our first love, we must not run from the sacrifice of the King of Kings. As a matter of fact, we must run to it. We must embrace our own death to this world. First, spiritually by faith. But second, actually through our own deaths when we breathe our last breath and step into eternity. Death by crucifixion is the price Jesus paid to provide for us the way of salvation. Death, as a result of sin, is the price we pay to bring about the consummation of our faith.
I remember listening to a message given my Dr. John Piper about missions. As I listened, a phrase struck me to the quick. He was describing the excitement and enthusiasm of the missionaries he was with even as they prayed for those who were in harms way. Dr. Piper described the experience and admonished his listens to consider what it meant to go into the mission field. He was trying to provide a context for the kind of focus and passion we are to have when we consider our journey of faith and calling to go into the world to make disciples. Listen to what he said.
Golgotha is not a suburb of Jerusalem. “Let us go with him outside the gat and suffer with him and bear reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).[Source]
How many times have I been dismissive of Jesus’ sacrifice and of the call to follow him, even to the cross? I say “dismissive” because whenever my resolve wanes, whenever my focus is blurred, whenever my fear causes me to falter, I have forgotten what it cost for me to be adopted into the family of God. It takes intentionality to keep the reality of Jesus’ death in proper perspective. Many, including me, forget how persistent a fight it is to keep the faith.
As I watched the movie tonight I was reminded of how much I have yet to learn. How much I have yet to surrender. And, maybe worse of all, how little I have really given up for the cause of Christ. I pray my surrender would only deepen as we approach another Resurrection Sunday.