Tips for Thought

The Passion of the Christ: A Deeply Moving Yet Controversial Film

Theatrical release poster, image courtesy of wikipedia.

The Passion of the Christ is a religious film by Mel Gibson in 2004. While many people have stated its numerous controversies, others have found it incredibly moving. It became the fifth high-grossing film of 2004 internationally and is still the highest-grossing Christian film of all time. The film’s sequel is currently in development and centers around the resurrection of Jesus and the events following it.

The Passion of the Christ Summary:

The movie starts with Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is accompanied by his disciples Peter, James, and John. Satan appears and tempts Jesus during this time, who immediately rebukes him.

Later, Judas is seen being bribed by Caiaphas and Pharisees for thirty pieces of silver. He leads the group of temple guards to the forest and betrays Jesus. As the guards arrest Jesus, his disciples fight back, with Peter slashing the ear of one of the guards. Jesus heals the guard’s wounds and reprimands Peter. As the disciples flee, the guards secure Jesus and beat him on the way to Sanhedrin.

John informs Mary and Magdalene of the arrest. In the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas holds a trial with false accusations and witnesses. Many of the priests who supported Jesus were expelled from the court. When asked if he was the Son of God, Jesus replied, “I am.” This statement leads to the trial condemning Jesus for blasphemy.

The mob confronts Peter. He actively denies that he is a follower of Jesus. He runs away, remembering Jesus’ warning earlier on his betrayal. Meanwhile, Judas attempts to return the money to free Jesus but is denied. After being haunted by demons, he hangs himself.

Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate. Despite the Roman governor knowing that Jesus is innocent, he allows the crowd to make their judgment. Many wished for the criminal Barabbas to be freed while Jesus was flogged and crucified. Unwilling to cause an uprising, the Pilate reluctantly orders Christ’s crucifixion.

The way to Golgotha is heavy, with Jesus carrying a wooden cross. Along the way, he is harassed by guards and a hateful mob. A few people stop to help but are dragged away by the guards. Upon reaching the end of his journey, Mary, Magdalene, and John witness Christ’s crucifixion.

Jesus prays to God to forgive his tormentors as he hangs from the cross. He also provides salvation to a criminal crucified beside him. As he succumbs to his wounds, he dies. An earthquake soon follows, damaging the temple and the earth as it splits in two.

Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross and is entombed. Three days later, he rose from the dead and exited the tomb with visible wounds on his palms.

Controversies of the Passion of the Christ:

The film has brought a lot of attention worldwide. With some countries even semi-banning it from the public. Among these controversies are the following:

    • The excessive violence in the film;
    • Alleged antisemitism depictions;
    • Controversies in the Vatican regarding the Pope’s opinion; and
    • Historical inaccuracies

Lessons We Can Learn from Christ’s Passion

While the film is only partially accurate, there are lessons we can learn from it. Considering it was based on the New Testament, here is what we can learn from Christ’s example:

1. Be courageous if you can’t, pray for it.

It’s easy to claim bravery and courage but hard to embody them. Despite accepting his fate and what he must do, Jesus still prays to his Father. This act of courage reminds us to do the same, accept our fate, and stay strong in the face of adversity. If we do not feel empowered, it is perfectly alright to ask God for support.

2. Be willing to surrender your fate to God.

It’s easy to accept God’s blessings but hard to accept challenges. When adversities occur, we become dispirited and ask God why He let things happen to us. Jesus knows it’s challenging to carry man’s sins through his suffering, but he did so because he knows that is his fate.

In a way, we can do the same; instead of asking ‘why,’ we can accept that we don’t know God’s plan. Whatever He has for us, we need to tell Him that we don’t understand but are willing to accept.

3. Forgive people who have wronged you.

Despite being arrested, mocked, tormented, and crucified, Jesus embodies love and forgiveness. We can follow his example by ignoring the cruel names of others and asking God to forgive them while also asking the Almighty to give us the strength to forgive.

4. Persevere through suffering.

Adversities leave us feeling demotivated, discouraged, and disillusioned. However, suffering can also enable us to become stronger and value the meaning of hard work and resilience. Christ has endured a lot for us, and we can embody his ways by doing the same and asking God for strength.

5. Prepare For Better Things.

Even though Christ endured pain and suffering, he was resurrected from the dead. Through his ultimate sacrifice, humanity is saved.

In a way, we don’t have to believe that suffering is permanent. While it may be hard to think otherwise, we must remember that much like Jesus coming back to life, we, too, can bounce back from our problems.

Takeaway: The Passion of the Christ is an unforgettable theme. Despite its controversies, it depicts the weight of sacrifice, the courage to face adversity, and the power of love and forgiveness.