In February of 2004 Mel Gibson released The Passion of the Christ. It quickly became the gold standard that all bible based films to follow will be judged against. It is a virtual time machine, transporting the viewer back to Jerusalem for the crucifixion of Jesus. The entire movie is in the original languages of the day – Aramaic and Latin and is as true to life as a movie can possibly be. It is a gut wrenching film that leaves any believer totally mortified. It captures the essence of what our Lord endured for us out of love for his children. It depicts the day that God’s chosen people, the people of Israel, put their God to death over their lust for power. It will be forever the greatest film on the passion and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fast forward two thousand years. On March 20, 2016 Fox will be airing the live musical The Passion. This is taken from their web site describing the show:
On Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), FOX will present THE PASSION, a two-hour musical event, airing LIVE from New Orleans, that tells the 2000-year-old story of the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life on earth. Hosted and narrated by actor, writer, producer, director and New Orleans native Tyler Perry (“The Haves and The Have Nots,” “Gone Girl”), the special will feature a cast of today’s biggest stars (to be announced) performing a variety of popular music, arranged by executive producer and hit music producer Adam Anders (“Glee,” “Rock of Ages”).
Set in modern day, THE PASSION will follow the dramatic and inspirational story of Jesus of Nazareth, as he presides over the Last Supper, and then is betrayed by Judas, put on trial by Pontius Pilate, convicted, crucified and resurrected. The story will unfold live at some of New Orleans’ most iconic locations, while featuring a procession of hundreds of people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from Champion Square outside the Superdome to the live stage at Woldenburg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.
As you can see from the poster’s tagline this is, “The most celebrated story of all time set to today’s biggest music hits.”
The passion and execution of God is now a celebrated story set to music. This is inspirational and will fill you with joy and happiness. It will make you jump to your feet and shout “Halleluiah!” as you sing and dance to music performed by some of the biggest names in the industry.
Someone please help the devil up off the floor. He has just peed himself from laughing so hard. We are so far removed from the reality of the day that we take the single greatest tragedy in all of human history and we put it to music and sing and dance. He can quit now for his work is done.
Perhaps it would help if people understood what the word passion actually means. Passion comes from the Latin word Pati which means suffering. The Passion of the Christ properly translated means the Suffering of the Christ. Today we translate passion as strong and barely controllable emotion, intense sexual love, an intense desire, or something arousing enthusiasm. Given the modern day definition of passion it is easy to see how we can view the Passion of the Christ as a celebrated story that fills one with joy.
There is nothing to celebrate or nothing inspiring about the crucifixion of Jesus. It is mankind’s greatest and gravest error in judgment. It is the act where we lusted for power and murdered the very God who created us and loved us. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus so loved the world that he consciously willed the very breath into the men who were scourging him, mocking him, driving the crown of thorns onto his head, and nailing him to the cross. At any time Jesus could have simply willed them out of existence but he allowed them to do their evil for the love of us.
Our celebration as Christians does not begin until the stone is rolled away and we find the tomb empty. No depiction of the crucifixion should leave us feeling joyful or inspired. If it does the depiction is not from God but from the devil attempting to lead you away from God. Be horrified by the crucifixion. Be grief laden by it. Be filled with the true meaning of passion. And then on Easter Sunday when they find the stone rolled away and the tomb is empty let your hearts burst with joy for he has risen as he said he would. Be then inspired by Christ’s love. Become a lantern carrying the light of that love to all those still in darkness. Go forth and proclaim joyfully the good news to all people.
Do yourself a favor and skip this presentation that borders on sacrilege. Watch The Passion of the Christ instead. You will never look at Easter the same way again.
My heart is full because the tomb is empty.