Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Leading Man

I've now seen "The Passion of the Christ" twice. You could say I'm a glutton for punishment, but you'd be wrong. That phrase fits Jesus and him alone. Our insatiable appetite for sin left him no choice but to endure the unthinkable.

The second viewing left me with a few different impressions than the first. I now believe the film is unequivocally anti-Semitic. It's also anti-Roman, anti-Satanic, and anti-human. A God-man who can forgive in the face of such unspeakable cruelty puts everyone to shame by default. And his passivity-in-action serves as a stark reminder that merely trying to do good is ultimately impossible. Without what amounts to a spirit transplant -- his for ours -- Jesus-following is futile. For that matter, it's also nonsensical. If you're merely trying to be a good person rather than forfeit your life for his, why would you bother forgiving the guilty, especially those who not only don't beg your forgiveness but rub their wrongdoing in your face.

Here's how the movie's motivated me: I'm now having trouble mustering any energy for anything other than this titular star. Not clean living. Not morality. Not theology. Not even church. Nothing matters anymore except him. And him crucified.

I don't even know what this means or where it will lead. I'm sure at some point I'll have to make practical decisions about some of the aforementioned items I suddenly don't care about. But for now, all I can see is him. Full of pain; empty of self. Caked in a concoction of his own life-giving blood and our own damned sin. I hate me for what I did to him. I love him for what he did to me.

Even as this film continues to make Hollywood history, the sequel is already being seen around the world with those of us who've given our lives to him playing the part of Jesus. When the final credits roll, may the Great Reviewer say of our portrayal of Christ, "Well done."

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