As we approach Holy Week I’ve been reflecting upon film versions of Jesus’ death. (These notes were written just after this year’s Oscars’ ceremony). In particular, my thoughts have been drawn to Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion”.
It caused a huge fuss amongst the “chattering classes”, but was a huge commercial success. Why did it create such a stir? “The Times” ran a special feature posing the question; “We say we are atheists – so why does a new film about Jesus cause us so much heart searching?”
One reviewer said; “This film is beautifully made and very powerful. The opening verse is from Isaiah 53 – ‘he was bruised for our iniquities’ – and the overall theme which is brought out very sensitively, is to remind us of just how it was God’s love for us that led Jesus to the Cross. At the end of the viewing the audience just sat quite stunned. It is the most powerful presentation of the passion I have ever seen – basically I just sat with tears in my eyes for most of the film. There is also a very moving and clever scene at the death of Jesus where from a ’heavens’ eye view something falls to earth and you realise it is a tear from the Father’s eye”.
In the past it was often the court jester who was able to speak the truth no one else dared utter. It was the comedian Al Murray who came nearest to explaining why the passion of Jesus touches such a raw nerve; “I for one never forget that Jesus died for my sins, which was nice of him seeing that I didn’t ask and he went ahead and did it anyway. Let’s face it, that’s a mate, you’d have to buy him a pint”. The issue is engagement. The passion of Jesus demands a response, we cannot remain mere observers.
Bishop Stephen Cottrell writes of “the profligate love of God”. The real problem with the passion is that we cannot ignore someone who loves us so much that we have to take notice, we have to respond to God’s call.
At Easter we shall be offered the opportunity to renew our commitment to follow Jesus. Let’s do so with new passion.
With my love and prayers,