I just saw The Passion of the Christ for the first time last night. I didn’t want to see it when it was in the theatres. I had a lot of reasons, but mostly it just wasn’t my time. Last night, it was.
At the end of the movie, like most of the rest of humanity, I cried. I cried, but I still just couldn’t quite comprehend it. All I could think was, “I wouldn’t let anyone do that to my turtle.” Let alone to a man. Let alone to God.
I think this tells me something important about my culture: we don’t see that kind of violence. Hardly ever. There are places and there are times, but we label those “aberrations,” grieve the losses, and move on entirely, as if nothing had happened. This is good and bad, and I thought about going into that, but mostly it’s just true. What’s also true is that, many times, people who have seen and heard violence like the violence Jesus suffered can understand that aspect of the Gospel better, and love him all the more for it. Here, we love Jesus for a lot of things, but “because I know what he suffered for me” really and truly isn’t one of them. Not in any real sort of sense.*
Which leads me to something I’ve come into a new understanding of. I’ve always thought that those people who want to “suffer as Jesus suffered” or “share the sufferings of Christ” were mostly just off their rockers entirely. But there’s something to it, when it comes to wanting to understand more of what he went through. The people who want this always say that they do it because the love him, and this fits in with understanding, for me. When I understand more of what he suffered, I can love him more for it, because he invariably suffered more than I think he did, or can comprehend at any one time. And I show my love for him, in part, by being willing to understand more of what he suffered, to grow in understanding and love, sometimes despite the cost to myself.
*As a caveat of sorts here, I’m wondering if the reason why there sometimes is the violence that there is in our culture is not because people are desensitized to it, but because they have no idea what it really is. I’m sure there’s no real way to investigate this, so I’ll probably always just wonder. But it is interesting…