Worse than That
My wife, Carolyn and I decided we would watch The Passion of the Christ written and directed by Mel Gibson. I had seen it several years before and it left me with a new appreciation of man’s ability to produce such a realistic movie depicting the level of suffering which can be portrayed on the movie screen. The movie was decidedly Catholic in that it showed a number of things which are a part of Catholic doctrine. But, in the main, it clearly gives one a deeper insight into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ those many years ago.
The movie is hard to watch. It is brutal to the extreme but it accomplishes its task of inspiring people to internalize and get a better appreciation for what God did for us in order for us to be redeemed. The Bible gives us some information about how horribly Jesus was treated. It tells us that he was so horribly beaten that he could not be recognized. I don’t need to try to describe a Roman beating but if one could not be recognized after experiencing such a beating, then that ought to give us an idea of its brutality. Most people did not survive a scourging. Many were disemboweled as the glass and metal pieces on the tips of the leather thongs cut them open as the beating continued. Flesh was torn from the body of the person being whipped and profuse bleeding was the result. As stated earlier, many people did not survive the scourging itself.
Jesus lived through this terrible experience and was then forced to carry his cross to the place where He would be crucified. Jesus knew all things and he also knew that the people for whom he was dying as a sacrifice would fail him many times in the future yet he died for all of them. If I were going to die for someone I would want to know if my death did them any good; if their lives were changed. Most human beings would say….”If he is going to continue to sin and if He is not going to be changed, then I’m not going to die for him.” But, Jesus endured all the shame and suffering knowing what we are like and what we would do I the future. He did it anyway.
Now, let me give you some insight that the Lord gave me as I watched The Passion of the Christ. Man has never been able to be as good as God requires us to be in order to satisfy His Holiness. It is beyond us to match or surpass Him in any way. If we could, He would cease to be God and that is not a possibility. God made all the preparations for us to satisfy Him and therefore to be allowed into His Heaven. So, when one watches The Passion and winces as the pain Jesus experienced during his crucifixion we must be aware of the fact that it does not match what really happened to Him. If it perfectly described what happened that day then we would have accomplished something that matched what He did. We can never do that or then He would no longer be God for we would have matched him in describing the brutality of what happened to Jesus. The Passion of the Christ is the most realistically portrayed movie of the brutality that Jesus suffered that I have ever seen. But, man can never portray accurately the depth of His suffering. What we see in this movie would not have been sufficient to atone for our sins. This should tell us more accurately just how much God hates sin. He is beyond us in that we can never reach perfection on anything He does. If we could match Him in anything then He would cease to be God. So the movie doesn’t deal with Christ as bad as it was but it can’t reach God’s perfection in showing us the depth, the true depth of suffering needed for redemption. For God’s holiness to be satisfied, the suffering shown in the movie would have to go far beyond what it depicted on the screen.
God paid a much higher price for our redemption than we could ever imagine. The process of satisfying His Holiness required more than we could possibly think. The Passion of the Christ made me grimace. It made me cry. It made me appreciate the Lord’s suffering for me far more than ever before. But, in reality it was far less than what it really took to cleanse us before a Holy God. The Lord bore all of it so that you and I would not have to go through what it would take to satisfy the Holiness of God. So, when we view the brutality of the things done to Jesus we must remember that it was Worse than That.
But, we must also remember that what He did next was Greater than That. Two days later He came to life again, Resurrected, and left the tomb never to return to one again. One of my friends who is a writer and a very accomplished preacher said this: “The cross put an end to His life and the resurrection put an end to his death.” Death never follows a resurrection; only eternal life made possible by what Christ accomplished for us. The cross satisfied God’s Holiness and provided eternal life for us if we will only accept it.
William F. Harrell