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Praying in the garden
Is a Man Whose heart is hardened
To the fact that He will soon endure the worst of any pain.
That devil snake unnerves Him,
Saying man does not deserve Him;
Jesus nonetheless resigns Himself to die, but not in vain.
 
He remains reserved and docile
When His ally and apostle
Judas gives his last betraying kiss to seize the Son of Man.
His other friends desert Him
As the soldiers bind and hurt Him.
He is led away, according to the Jewish leaders’ plan.
 
The Sanhedrin asks and mocks Him,
But it seems that nothing shocks Him,
And He’s all but silent till He says He is indeed divine.
They’re infuriated by it,
And, regardless if He’s quiet,
They insist that He be put to death because He crossed their line.
 
As He’s taken for His sentence,
Judas cannot find repentance
And is hounded by his demons till he hangs himself in grief.
Meanwhile, as Jesus eyes him,
Peter thrice in fear denies Him,
And he flees and weeps in bitterness for slandering his chief.
 
Jesus stands in Pilate’s power,
But He does not beg or cower;
He stands silent as the Jews accuse their King of wicked lies.
Though both he and Herod gather
That He’s innocent, he rather
Has his soldiers scourge the Man, perhaps to forgo His demise.
 
Still the Jews demand damnation
And will not accept placation,
And they free the foul Barabbas rather than a guiltless Man.
Pilate fears a new uprising
So he ends up compromising.
Pilate cleans his hands while giving in to his taxpayers’ plan.
 
As the soldiers strike and beat Him,
All the angry crowds mistreat Him,
And He’s forced to bear the heavy cross on which He will be hung.
Through the teeming streets, He carries
Quite a weight, that’s also Mary’s,
As His mother watches helplessly, unlike when He was young.
 
When He strains His final sinew,
When He falls and can’t continue,
They compel a man named Simon to assist Him with the beams.
When a woman comforts Jesus,
Wiping off the blood that frees us,
All the soldiers start to beat Him until Simon intervenes.
 
On the hill of crucifixion,
They complete the Lord’s affliction,
And they nail His hands and feet against the hard, abrasive wood.
As He knew the night preceding,
When His followers were feeding,
He is lifted overhead in utter pain for mankind’s good.
 
As the Jewish leaders scorn Him,
And His friends and mother mourn Him,
He forgives His own accusers, barely drawing enough breath.
When He feels abandoned even
By the God He did believe in,
He gives up His soul and spirit and thus triumphs over death.
 
As a sudden storm blows straight in,
There is only loss for Satan,
Though disciples round the cross are still in sorrow for their Lord.
Mary’s woe may dominate her,
But it’s only three days later
That the Savior Jesus rises, having life for all restored.
_____________________
 

First off, let me say that this poem and review are written solely from my position as a Christian, more so than my other posts. I personally believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and those of the world, but like so many Christians, my convictions sometimes tend toward complacency. It’s easy to skim the Gospels and read that Jesus was flogged, mocked, and nailed to a cross, but after years of such tame review, His death often fails to achieve the level of meaning it once had. It takes a brutally honest portrayal like The Passion of the Christ to help viewers to fully appreciate the severity of his suffering, to recognize just how much He endured for me and for you.

Embroiled in controversy, Mel Gibson’s foreign-language, cinematic passion play, the highest-grossing R-rated film in the US, is exceedingly violent, an almost continuous cavalcade of tortures and ugliness, yet Jim Caviezel is a subtle and credible Jesus, bestowing a patient solemnity on all he suffers. Gibson himself has stated that the film falls short of depicting the crucifixion in its full horror (which is true to some extent since Jesus was likely crucified naked rather than with the traditional loincloth), while others have called the film’s agonies overwhelmingly excessive and more than enough to kill a man. To address the latter grievance, I must point out that Jesus did not merely suffer physically but spiritually as well. In addition to all the blood and humiliation, the weight of mankind’s sin throughout the ages was piled on Him so unbearably that God the Father turned His back on His Son. As opposed as I am to violence, I see The Passion of the Christ as an unflinching reminder of the Lord’s atonement to snap unexcitable believers like myself to a fuller appreciation of it.

The film also possesses notable artistic merit that cements its status as one of the quintessential Jesus movies. The literal interpretation of Genesis 3:15 (about crushing a snake’s head) is a brilliant symbol of Jesus’ final determination to go through with the dreaded task ahead of Him, and well-placed flashbacks offer meaningful respites from the carnage. The depiction of the Last Supper is saved for the arrival at Calvary as a fitting remembrance of Christ offering His Body and Blood. Other smaller details also hold significance, such as Mary’s wiping up her Son’s blood after the scourging: in the Catholic Church, any spilling of the Eucharistic wine/Blood is an occasion for swift and solemn purification. The most moving scene is Jesus’ rendezvous with His mother on the Via Dolorosa; after a previous good-humored scene together, this heart-breaking reunion portrays one of Jesus’ falls, interspersed with snippets of a childhood accident, and speaks to anyone who has given or received maternal love.

While I now watch The Passion of the Christ around Good Friday every year, it took me a while to muster the courage to view it, and my VC still cannot bring herself to watch such a disturbingly brutal film. I agree it is gruesome (particularly the wince-inducing scourging scene) and certainly not appropriate for children, but light is only fully appreciated and comprehended amid darkness. That light is even portrayed in the brief final scene, a refreshingly explicit reference to the Resurrection compared with artistically oblique endings in Ben-Hur and Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s not for everyone, but The Passion of the Christ is the most spiritually stirring film I’ve seen in some time, one that everyone who can handle it ought to see.

Best line (again given added depth after witnessing the horrors He endured): (Jesus, from the cross) “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.”

 
Rank: Still List-Worthy (#101)
 

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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