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The Passion of the Christ
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2004

Brief Thoughts on Mel Gibson

At a very well known youth conference, DCLA, this past summer, in Washington D.C., the president of the organization spoke to us the final morning we were there. After a brief captivating clip of some new movie about Christ, he started speaking of this movie project that would be unveiled before Easter of 2004. I was slightly surprised when he began telling us about Mel Gibson as the projects founder and main financial supporter. As he was winding down his time with us, he began to say, “And now, here with us this morning…”

I thought to myself, “No! Come on! You’re not gonna say Mel Gibson is here?”

But he continued “…to share with us, MEL GIBSON!” The crowd of around 5,000 teens and leaders roared in a mixed sense of awe, unbelief, uncertainty and almost hesitation. Mel Gibson? Why would he be here? What’s he have to do with this movie? I still didn’t believe he was there. Then he came walking out on the stage, and much of the crowd was just giddy at the fact they were seeing this mega star in the same room as them.

As a now (almost) late twenty-something, I immediately began to think of Mel Gibson as he was hitting his prime in the Lethal Weapon movies of the early to mid 90’s. “The guy who was in those movies, made this movie?” I thought to myself. “Huh. Well, let’s see what he has to say.”

I guess I was just confused. I couldn’t tell if he was there as an outside supporter of our faith, or just the movie, or what the deal was. He did seem a bit uncomfortable on the stage at times. I guess even a movie star can be intimidated standing in front of a group of teens, let alone 5,000 of them!

However, as Mr. Gibson began to reveal his heart to us, some hope glistened within me that he was sincere. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Lethal Weapon Movies, and many of his other movies as well, and have always thought he was a great actor. Little did I know how much more about him, his faith and his latest project I would get to know just six short months later. My impression of Mel Gibson has indeed changed and developed quite a bit between when I woke up that morning at DCLA and when I sit at my computer and write this now. My respect and appreciation has grown multifold for him as a man of great character, courage and conviction.

Thoughts on “The Passion of The Christ”

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven months and the movie has been released. Where does the time go? Of course, the last month has been nothing but hearing about the movie every time I go online or turn the TV on so the suspense just built more and more. My wife and I (5 months ago, I couldn’t say that!) waited six days after the release to finally go see it.

As you might expect, or might have heard from many, this is a powerful movie that is very worthwhile seeing. This movie has drama, suspense, fright, humor (not much, but it’s there) and even some parts that are quite enjoyable to watch. And while much of it is uncomfortable to watch, I didn’t want to take my eyes off the screen. First of all, there are the subtitles that you have to keep up with, which is really just reading the Bible. Also, in addition to the portrayal of what Jesus went through, there is the agony of those who love him having to watch every last minute of his suffering.

There are many reasons I believe seeing this movie is important in the life of a Christian. While we do have to understand that this is one mans impression of what took place, we can acknowledge that the story itself is accurate and fits very closely with what we read in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). It’s also worth noting that while the severity of the punishment could have varied, thorough research was done to assure that it was displayed as close as possible to what actually happened.

Those disclaimers aside, it is important to see this movie because we can’t see the blood on the pages of the Bible. We can’t hear the yells and suffering on the pages of the Bible. God gave us wonderful imaginations, and we can certainly get a good picture in our minds, but we are becoming more and more a visual society. Often times words don’t mean much without visual stimulation. Often times I think the words of the Gospels don’t mean much to young Christians because of this. This movie becomes an easy means by which to gain our visual stimulation to accompany what we read in the scriptures and thus provides the opportunity to make it more real for some.

Because of this, I have some suggestions for you before (or after) you see this film, if you haven’t already. First of all, take some time to read the account of the Crucifixion in the Gospels. Even if you have read the story before, I found myself saying countless times in the theatre “I wish I’d read through it again.” I think this would be very helpful as you watch the movie. The film starts with Jesus suffering in the Garden (Matt. 26:36; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:39; John 18:1), and the whole story goes through the end of chapter 27 in Matthew. Reading at least two of these accounts would be beneficial because different ones have different details. Matthew and John would be my suggestions.

You should also go into the film with an open mind, and a blank slate as to what you think you’ll see in the hours that follow. I’ve found that in life, this is usually a helpful tactic in going through any situation that you might be looking forward to. A good way to do this is to pray, “God, please take away my expectations of this experience, and may I get from it as much as I need to draw me closer to you.

There is really not much more to say. It’s been days now since I’ve seen it, and when people ask what I thought, I’ve found there is really not much to say. It’s a very well done, powerful movie, the effects of which are hard to put into words. That’s probably good, as the effects will be different for each person who sees it. Use it as an experience to be educated, as an opportunity to grow and a chance to become closer to the God who made it possible to be in touch with him through the great acts you’ll witness on the screen in the final hours of Christ.

If there’s one thing we can all take from any encounter we have (reading or viewing) of Christ’s suffering, is that we are truly unworthy of such a mighty, selfless, painful offering from our Lord and King.