I agree with the following editorial - Keith Hunt
This movie received more press coverage before its release
than any movie I can ever remember, and most of it was hostile.
Reviewers and commentators were coming out of the woodwork to
take shots at Mel Gibson and his "The Passion of the Christ" long
before it was ever viewed by anyone. Everybody had an opinion
about a movie that none had seen. Charges of anti-Semitism and
profiteering on blood were hurled at Gibson.
Well, now that the movie has been in theaters for a while,
it is still getting press. Although some of those who initially
panned the movie changed their opinions after viewing it,
hostility and cynicism toward the film and Mel Gibson continue to
be the opinion of others. As some see it, Mel Gibson's "Passion"
ranks right up there with the resurrection of Adolph Hitler.
After seeing the movie, it is now my turn to offer an
opinion. Mind you, it was not a movie that I relished seeing. I
already knew of the graphic depictions of the brutality suffered
by Jesus during his final hours, and that, in itself, was
repelling. Nevertheless, buy a ticket I did, and here is my
opinion of the movie and of Gibson's effort to depict the passion
of the Christ.
I would like to begin by dispelling a couple of very hostile
criticisms of Mr.Gibson and his movie. From the start there were
cries of anti-Semitism against this cinematic portrayal of the
last hours of Christ. I found nothing in the movie to support
this epithet, nor have I seen it in any of the numerous
interviews that Mr.Gibson has given. These outcries started
during the filming of the movie, long before anyone had viewed
it. I can only say that it sounds to me like the wailings of
people who wanted to prevent any movie that might draw attention
to Christ. Those objecting the loudest seem to have based their
view on the fact that Mr.Gibson made it known from the beginning
that he intended to stick to the Gospels as closely as possible.
If the Gospels are anti-Semitic, then the movie is anti-Semitic.
But, this is impossible since the hero, Jesus, and his followers
were Jewish. The movie was not about race; it was about the price
Jesus paid for the sins of both Jews and gentiles.
Other detractors say that Mel Gibson "did it for the money."
They contend that being aware of the public's appetite for blood,
he knew he would reap a huge financial windfall if he made the
movie as bloody as possible. Of course, if this logic were true,
then "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or Van Damme's "The Quest"
would be two of the biggest box office hits in the history of
cinema. In actual fact, Gibson did not know whether his film
would ever play in theaters. The usual Hollywood financial
backers would not touch the film with a ten-foot pole. Gibson
finally shelled out $30 million from his own pocket just to make
the movie. Then his contracted film distributor backed out of the
project. So, he was left with a hugh out-of-pocket expense and no
one to distribute the film. Eventually he was able to find a
distributor, but still had to spend another $15 million of his
own money marketing the film.
Mel Gibson has never been secretive about why he made "The
Passion." Having tasted all the fame and fortune that the world
can give, he was still empty inside. It was at the depth of his
despair that he turned back to his religious roots and began to
find some meaning for his life. He felt grateful for the
sacrifice that Jesus made to save him and wanted the world to
know that he had changed and what had changed him. It is no more
complicated than that. There have been many rich and famous
people who have been brought to their knees by the emptiness of
their lives, and Mel Gibson is just another example. Spending
much of his life in making films, he wanted to use this God-given
gift to say something to the world about his own gratefulness for
the sacrifice of Christ.
Before I tell you how the film affected me personally, let
me cover one more objection to the movie. Some have said that the
film itself is a violation of the second commandment. Its
depiction of Christ, who is in heaven, does violence the spirit
of the commandment not to make graven images.
As the argument goes, the film creates an object of worship
in our minds and hearts and that we will tend to think of the
actor, Jim Caviezel, when we think of our heavenly Savior. If you
object to the movie on this basis, then I would say, don't see
it. This argument frames the movie in terms of personal faith and
conviction about the spiritual intent of the second commandment.
I can certainly understand a person's objection to the film on
this basis. I do not, however, share that conviction. When I see
Jim Caviezel depicted as Christ in his human suffering, I don't
think of the resurrected and glorified Christ in heaven. The
movie is about the one who emptied himself of his heavenly glory
and did not grasp onto his equality with God, but became human
like me in order to take away my sins through his suffering and
Also, if the premise that any impersonation of Christ during
his earthly ministry is a violation of the second commandment,
then so are all dramas and movies that depict his life. So is
Veggie Tales in its portrayal of Christ as a vegetable. Yet, the
"Jesus" film and many other dramatized descriptions of his life
and teachings have been used over the centuries to bring tens of
thousands of people to salvation. And, what about the biblical
descriptions of Christ? For example, in Revelation 1:14, Jesus is
described in this manner: "His head and his hairs were white like
wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire."
That certainly paints a mental image of Christ in heaven. Is it a
violation of the second commandment also?
"The Passion of the Christ" left me with one major
impression: My sins cost my Savior much more suffering than I
ever imagined. After seeing on screen the severity of his
affliction, I can never again take lightly his payment for my
sins. Over the years Hollywood has whitewashed the suffering of
Jesus. This one movie puts it all into perspective. This film is
probably the most accurate portrayal of the suffering and death
of Christ that has ever been put on screen. Overall, it follows
the story of the Gospels. There were some obvious Catholic
overtones to the movie - elements added to narrative that are not
in the Gospels. They were obvious, but not overly distracting.
There is much attention to Mary and the other women who
surrounded Jesus. There are other sub-plots that come from
Catholic tradition. Apart from these added elements, Gibson has
done an excellent job in giving the viewer the truth about the
suffering and death of Christ. Yes, it is bloody, and I don't
recommend it for the squeamish. Isaiah prophesies that Jesus
would be beaten and afflicted beyond human recognition. Seeing
the movie brings the truth of that prophecy clearly into focus.
As the prophet Isaiah says:
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet
we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for
our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and
the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was
oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before
its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was
taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare
His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the
living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked-but with the rich at
His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any
deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering
for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He
shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His
knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He
shall bear their iniquities" (53:4-11).
May June 2004 The Sabbath Sentinel - wwwbiblesabbath.org
COMMENTS by Keith Hunt:
The film was not perfect, and as Mel Gibson has said, he had to
tone down the violence done to Jesus. Liberty was taken I think,
in showning Jesus being whipped over and over again, as He made
His way to Calvary. There is nothing in the Gospels to suggest
this actually happened. I thought the opening scene of Jesus in
the garden could have been dramatized more, for the Gospels bring
out that He agonized in prayer and mental attitude so that His
sweet became as drops of blood. Science has proven (and they have
a technical name for it) that such can happen, that blood can
come through the pores of the skin mingled with sweat, under some
I did not find an over "Roman Catholic" printing on the film,
then again, I was not looking for it per se, nor did I find too
much emphasis on Mary, then I was not looking for that either.
Gibson did show that a spear was thrust into Jesus' side, but he
did not have it in quite the correct time frame. The spear thrust
into Jesus was the action that finally put Him to death, that
killed Him. This I explain fully in studies on the Passover Lamb
on this Website.
I have said for decades that if a Hollywood movie was to be done
that came close to what really happened to Jesus in His trial and
crucifixion, it would have to be a "horror movie" - Mel Gibson's
"Passion of Christ" comes as close to that as we need to have.
I found it very moving, and I had to turn my eyes away at times
during the scourging of Jesus, and remember the prophecies said
that Jesus could tell some of His bones, which Gibson's movie did
not show, so the reality of it was greater than the movie shows.
Read my studies under "Passover" on this Website, see the movie
IF you are not squeamish. Either way, you will come to understand
the great sacrifice Jesus the Christ was willing to go through,
so human mankind could be forgiven of sin and obtain glorious
eternal life in the very family or Kingdom of God.