Movie of the Week: The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson, 2004
Clip: 4:45 – 9:25
Old Testament: Genesis 3:13-15
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21
There is much to reflect upon as we compare the earliest movies we reviewed a few weeks ago. Obviously, technology and the film industry have changed a great deal over the past one hundred years, but the differences between those movies and this one go beyond technology. It was obvious in DeMille’s The King of Kings he went to great lengths to show Jesus as deity with the eerie illumination that envelopes him most of the movie. This scene of Jesus could not be farther from that image. Gibson’s intent through the entire movie is to bring to light the physical and human pain and suffering that Jesus endured. We have wrestled with this age-old theological tension throughout this devotional, and here it shows up again.
I remember the first time I watched this movie in the theater. The one thing that stuck with me through all these years (beyond the extreme gore and brutality that the film is so well known for) is this peculiar portrayal of Satan. Several days ago, we had a devotional reflection dedicated to Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness which ended with that ominous passage about Satan leaving Jesus until a more opportune time. I think that until I watched this movie, I had never thought about the devil’s role in the Passion story. Even in the Garden, we tend to see Jesus’ prayer as a personal struggle, but it must have been an intense battle with evil all the way to the end.
The sudden and unexpected smashing of the snake reinforces Gibson’s message here with the clear reference to the Genesis 3 prophecy. There is so much to consider here in the final hours of Jesus’ life, which more than deserves our time this week in reflecting and praying. This scene provides a helpful moment to spur us to think about our own battles with the devil. Especially now, considering all we’ve been through the past few weeks and the upending of our routines and just about everything we consider “normal.” How is Satan working in your life right now? How is he tempting you? How is he trying to keep you from seeing Jesus better? Spend time in prayer today, asking God to “deliver us from the evil one” – remember that prayer? As we consider all that Jesus did for us and had to overcome in his sacrifice, let us not forget that much of that same evil often stands against us. Peter compares the devil to a “roaring lion” – something to take seriously. We are told to “resist the devil, and he will flee from us,” but it often doesn’t feel like it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone else today if you feel especially under Satan’s attack.