I’ve written here before about how much I do not like Good Friday. It’s a sad day that reminds me and all other Christians that we, indeed, are sinners who need salvation from God. And to receive that salvation, God himself had to come down from Heaven, take the form of a man, and suffer a brutal death while taking all the sins of all the people in all the world upon his shoulders. I don’t like the simple fact that it’s my sin that helped put him up there. I don’t like that God himself was killed by human hands. I don’t like the fact that so many terrible things happened to Jesus Christ on this day. And yet I cannot help but appreciate some incredible beauty in this day.
I’m reminded of this after watching a review of the movie The Passion of the Christ that was done by the famous YouTuber, The Nostalgia Critic. I’m a fan of his work and quite enjoy his reviews. They cover good movies, awful movies, M. Night Shyamalan movies (a special kind of bad and/or crazy), and everything in between. He joined another YouTuber, the Cinema Snob, to do a review of The Passion fairly recently. I watched it, having a fairly decent idea of what to expect. I found exactly what I thought I’d see: A review criticizing the film as little more than being an excuse to watch a guy get beat up and then die. There are several jokes throughout that mock the idea of religious folk getting a meaningful experience out of it, and several jabs at Mel Gibson throughout. It’s nothing far from expectations, but it absolutely misses the point.
I will grant them a few points. The film is incredibly violent. Jesus is absolutely brutalized and beaten to death. And it is jarring and incredibly hard to watch. Many devout Christians understandably have a difficult time with all this, and understandably so. However, when he describes the movie as torture porn, I have a problem with that. While The Passion is a violent movie and is hard to watch, it is not torture porn. That is meant to be a demonstration of the most that a human being can take to get some sick enjoyment from it. Watching The Passion is not meant to make people appreciate how much Jesus was beaten and hurt on that day. It’s meant to show how much He suffered for us, how much God endured for His people.
That’s the other point I have issue with in the review. There are several points where the critics express disappointment in the focus on the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life instead of on His message of radical love. That misses the point. Sure, Jesus’ life and preachings were focused on love, mercy, compassion, and care for one another. It would have been nice to see more of him talking with his apostles to break up the pacing a little more. But on a religious point, if you’re going to talk about Christian love, you actually must center on Christ’s sacrifice for us. John 15:13 reads “”Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” And Jesus had the greatest love of all. Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself to take up our sins and save us all. If there is any greater love than that, I’d love to see it. But I don’t think that exists, so Jesus’ passion is the greatest example of true love possible.
It’s strange reflecting on this week’s after Holy Week ended, but it’s worth reflecting on how much He loves us and how we ought follow His example to the best of our ability. It’s also worth noting how easy it is to overlook and miss that when we don’t want to look at how violent the faith and the story of the faith can be. I hope to look at it more in depth in my own life in the future.