Thursday, March 20, 2008

the crucifixion

Tomorrow, Friday, we celebrate and remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago. It is at once a joyous and grievous occasion. No greater atrocity has ever occurred than the murder of God on the cross. But, at the same time, no great love has ever been shown than by God on the cross. This is the great mystery of the Christian faith. It is foolishness to those who don't believe and life to those who do.

We will be showing the Passion of the Christ at 7pm tomorrow. I have mixed feelings. I will try to espouse them as best I can.

When the movie first came out I was a bit leery. The thought of watching someone, even in a movie, playing Jesus on the cross has always kind of weirded me out. That includes all of those Sunday morning plays. I have never really liked the thought of someone playing the part of God. Call me crazy, but I still won't like it.

I took some counsel from several folks. Most of them said "Joe, this movie helps us understand the horror of the crucifixion and can be used as a great evangelistic tool. Tons of people will see it and you won't be able to talk about it or interact with it because you won't have seen it."

There were a few, though, that sat on my side of the fence and did not watch it. To me, more and more, I have begun to have problems with pictures and representations of Christ that aren't...Christ. And since He isn't on the earth anymore, then that basically means I have a problem with every single picture of Jesus and every play that Jesus is in. All of them. Including the much beloved portrait of the long-haired Jesus.

Why do I have a problem? To me, it violates the idea of the second commandment which includes the phrase "you shall not make an idol, whether in the form of anything in heaven above..." and it goes on. This idea of not making an idol of anything that resembles heaven above is where I get stuck. To me, these pictorial representations of Jesus begin the violation of this commandment.

Also, when Jesus says to Thomas, "blessed are those who have not seen," I think he really means "have not seen" and implies "or tried to make visual representations of".

To those who would say that I need to see the movie in order to know the horror of the crucifixion...I only say, why? Did Martin Luther have such a movie to convict his heart of this horror? or Calvin? or Spurgeon? or Pink? or Lewis? or Lloyd-Jones? Of course, the answer is "no." I believe the Scriptures do a pretty good job of getting across the gruesomeness of the cross.

I also ask (perhaps this is incorrect) Is it really about the physical suffering of Christ? Does it matter so much that I need to see a movie to understand it about the suffering of Christ? Or, is it more about the finality of death and his defeat of it? Now, I don't believe that we can lightly think of the suffering Christ, but more so we should focus on the actual spiritually crucified Christ. The one who cried out "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" and not the one who didn't utter a word as he was beaten, mocked and spit upon.

And so, tomorrow, I will face the question "Should I continue to keep my eyes from the Passion or am I being a bit to much of a legalist and stifling what could be a raw moment of emotion?"

I have a feeling that I will probably sit it out once again.

What are your thoughts?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So did you go? -Kara Steele