It has been a few weeks since I saw “The Passion of the Christ” and although I am still processing all that I experienced, I feel compelled to write before the film is formally released.  I saw a “rough cut” of the movie as part of the Elevate Conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX. As such, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement that limits the details of what I can say, but in no way inhibits me from giving you my impressions. That said, I want to share with you what I experienced. I know you have probably already read what Paul Harvey and many others have written--as have I, yet for some reason I still feel compelled to write.


The film is a brutally honest portrayal of both the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ—although I felt there was an enormous emphasis on the humanity. You do not watch this movie so much as you experience it. I have read about crucifixion, I have taught the crucifixion, but after seeing The Passion of the Christ, I feel as if I have witnessed the crucifixion first hand. I feel like I was there. And I don’t think you attend the crucifixion of Christ and leave unchanged.


I am not one who expresses my emotions through tears. It is not that I think crying is not for me, or that it makes me a particularly weak man, it is just that tears often do not say what I want to say. I can often express myself better with words. Many times that night, however, I found myself moved beyond tears—reduced to weeping, with no words left to express what I was feeling.


In this film, as I witnessed the humanity of Christ, never has my own humanity ever been laid so bear.


I am reminded of a few things Martin Luther, the theologian of the cross, wrote: “The wisdom of the cross is today very much hidden in a deep mystery.” He also wrote, “He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.”  For Him, the cross was the lens through which everything else must be viewed. For me, “The Passion of the Christ” was a pretty good lens into that cross.


I am sure you have heard the most about the cross scenes. But I think the cross is what we understand and appreciate the least. We use crosses almost like totems today. We wear them around our neck, we decorate our homes and offices with them, but I wonder if we have not lost something of the cross. It seems to me that the scandal of the cross has been lost to our culture. In our relative lack of experience of suffering, we don’t have categories for such profound matters. My generation is the first generation in a long time that has not had to stare in the face of incredible evil on a global scale.  I think this has contributed to our lack of understanding of the scandal of the cross. The cross was brutal. This film captures that cross, and is brutal. This is not a popcorn movie that will entertain you—it is rated R for a reason. This movie may very well leave you scandalized.


But the film is also profoundly tender at times. As a father, some of the interaction between Jesus and Mary touched me deeply. Again, I saw the full humanity of Jesus. And on the cross, I saw a depiction of the full deity. On the cross, Jesus died in my place.


No one can experience the Passion of the Christ and be unmoved. In the movie, you see the life of Jesus and His crucifixion up close and personal. You are confronted with the truth of the gospel, that no one comes to the Father except by the Son….While you may know that it is Mel Gibson’s hand holding the spike about to be driven through Jesus’ hand, you can have no doubt that it just as easily could have been yours….


I have heard some compare the potential for this film to the biggest movie of all-time, Titanic. Titanic was a blockbuster film telling the story of a waif  who sacrificed his life to give life to one woman--who then spent her whole life looking back. The Passion of the Christ is a wrenching film of a blockbuster Savior who sacrificed his life to give lasting eternal life to the whole world.


But neither the story nor the film end there. For details, you have to read the Book, see the film, and experience His Passion personally.


As we do that, I think we must be prepared to help others understand this movie. While the movie rather faithfully tells the story of the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus, there is indeed much more to tell. And for those who may not be as familiar with the rest of story as we are, we must be prepared to help them experience the scandal of the cross without leaving them with the mere experience of being scandalized.


The message of the cross is not merely that the horrible suffering of Jesus paid the price for my sins. It is not merely a matter of what He did, but it rather also matters who He was. As we are all reminded of what He did, let us also remind ourselves and others of who He was. Fully human, fully God. And that has made all the difference to me, and to the world.


He is risen. He is risen indeed.

Matt Blackmon


© 2004, Matt Blackmon. The opinions, thoughts, and feelings expressed here are uniquely my own. Please respect that. You may use the above only in its entirety and only if you include my full name and my web address. For any other uses, please ask. I will probably say “Yes!”

Matt Blackmon
Discipleship Minister
Heights Church

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extra ecclesiam nulla salus est
fidelis quaerens intellectum

"If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus
Christ rightly."
           C.H. Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 1, p.395