Over the Easter holiday, I hope to revisit this movie, The Passion of the Christ, a movie done by Mel Gibson as producer, director, and co-writer. A movie that was steeped in controversy and yet still seemed to be one of the top-grossing rated R movies of all time. The movie had a lot of evangelical support,  including from the national association of evangelicals, Joel Olsteen, and Harvest Christian Fellowship. And was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning the people’s choice award for favorite motion picture drama. There were no A-list  Hollywood stars in this movie, and you can imagine there was controversy around this film, yet it ended up being in my personal opinion, one of the best Christian movies of all time. I strongly urge you to watch this movie if you haven’t already. It is not for the weak of heart, but if you want to see how Jesus died for you in a really visual way, I urge you to watch it.

I had never seen it before, but I had the desire to watch the movie, and after a few failed attempts to find it free on YouTube, I ended up ordering it from Amazon. Yet, the movie sat on my bookshelf with my Bibles and Christian books for many months. My eyes would occasionally catch it, and that inner voice would nudge me to watch; eventually, one night, I gave in.

And I cried multiple times, felt physically ill, and had to frequently pause the film to reflect on what I was seeing and how it was affecting me emotionally and physically. The reason I am writing a review/ blog about it right now is obviously that it’s Easter time and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are on my mind and heart. And I also believe that we sometimes minimize what really happened to him, and we can all benefit from viewing this film to obtain a visual and dramatic depiction of his death.

We think about the good things he did, the people he met and helped, his relationship with the father, his disciples, and all he met. We think of the parables and the stories and the lessons he taught each of us and still does. We consider Jesus to be compassionate, empathetic, intelligent, and all things we desire to be. Yet, we forget that prior to his baptism, he was the Son of Man and was subject to the same limitations as we are. It was not until he was baptized that the spirit was with him as his comforter, but even in the midst of knowing the truth about his father in heaven, he still endured the trials and tribulations of this planet we live on. He still felt all the emotions we do, and I am sure the pain he felt on the cross was excruciating. I don’t think we can actually fathom this, and this movie does give you a real sense of being there with him at this time in our history.

We overlook the fact that the very people he eventually came to love and save were the ones who despised, hunted, and hated him. The amount of evil and hatred that has existed and continues to exist in the world is well captured in this film. How the fall and the sin of mankind can really impact each of us if we do not have Christ as our savior. This film’s depiction of Christ’s crucifixion on the cross is so symbolic that you cannot look away even as your heart breaks over the injustice committed.

As Christians, we celebrate Easter, as we should; however, I feel that the sacrifice is occasionally overshadowed by the elements of salvation and resurrection. We are so filled with joy, peace, and love for Jesus and our heavenly father that we often forget the lament that preceded it.

His own disciple is denied as he cowers in fear of meeting the same fate as someone he cares about. Judah’s betrayal to gain money and protect himself, abandoning his dependable friend. Well, Christ was fully aware that we, the people he came to save from evils, would not only turn them against him but would also shamefully turn his death into a futile tragedy involving chocolate and bunnies. 

This movie will help you remember the true sacrifice and the true meaning behind his life and death, and it will give you a real sense of exactly what Christ did for you. I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to see the film, and if you can, do so over the Easter holiday. It will help you understand people and things outside of yourself.

My Christian friend feels similarly about this film as others may feel about the television series The Chosen, and I concur. Both are remarkable depictions of the life of Christ, but this film, despite the blood, gore, and abuse, provides a deeper understanding of the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The resurrection has spared all our lives from living eternally with the guilt of the sin and fall of our own kind.

I did not want to reveal too much about the plot of this film in this brief review, only enough to hopefully pique your interest in watching it. I believe it is something you must personally experience if the Holy Spirit guides you there. Observe it, then! I am certain it altered my perception of Jesus and made him and his sacrifice more tangible to me. 

People learn in a variety of ways; some prefer the visual, auditory, sensorial, or reading ways, while others must read the words in order to make the connection. Personally, I believe that God speaks to me in each of these ways, and I urge you all to find non-traditional ways to spend Easter weekend with Jesus. Maybe go for a walk, listen to some new worship songs you haven’t heard before, watch this or another film about the life of Christ, or look beyond the typical Easter passages of John and search for the significance of the crucifixion not only to your own heart but also to the hearts of the worlds. Jesus died for us not only to save us from the sins of the world but also to create disciples who would spread the gospel. Easter is approaching, so perhaps it is time to find new ways to honor him in this manner.

Since then, I’ve learned that a follow-up to The Passion of the Christ, titled The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection, will be released in 2024 and will star Jim Caviezel and other cast members from the first movie. The three days immediately following Christ’s crucifixion and preceding Easter Sunday will be the main subject of the new movie. I haven’t heard of any controversy surrounding the sequel’s production, and I’m looking forward to watching it and hopefully reviewing it with you all next year.  

-Amanda Mason

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