Back in 2004 I went to see Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of Christ. It was reported in the newspapers as the one of the most touching, powerful, heartfelt, shocking, inspiring, and riveting films ever made. There is no doubt that crucifixion was most cruel and ghastly. The age was extremely cruel. Codes of conduct as we know them, when treating aliens and prisoners did not exist – as is still often the case today. For the Roman army of occupation, inflicting maximum degrading violence asserted racial superiority. Similar cruel behaviour would also be the usual way of the Jewish Temple police. Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness was outside accepted thinking and behaviour.
However, as more people watched the film, reviewers started pointing to the serious need of a different warning.
The film concentrates on the final hours of Jesus’ life. It is about Good Friday, and really concludes with his death. With 126 minutes concentrating on the events of the Passion, and only 2 minutes alluding to the Resurrection, viewers may have left the cinema in shock without having grasped the joyful and essential news of Easter. Without the powerful events of Easter morning, then Good Friday is just a tale of dreadful violence.
As we approach Holy Week and Easter I want to put the film in context. Truly, the violence of Good Friday was real, was unspeakable. But it is quite overshadowed by the Good News that Jesus overcame it all. He lives again and is invincible. More so than all the pain and cruelty that the world has ever known and will ever know.
I hope that you will join us at Holy Trinity for our Holy week services and on Easter Day.
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter
Canon Andrew Gough – Vicar of Holy Trinity with St Nicholas