But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. -- Isaiah 53:5
Having read the book a few times, I was compelled to see the movie despite the pronouncements that it was graphically violent and that it would reinforce anti-Semitism.
So I steeled myself and, along with my family, went off to see it on opening night.
"The Passion of the Christ" was not a movie about His resurrection, or even the vast majority of His ministry. It was about the extent of His torment for the last twelve hours of His life.
It did not make me hate Jews...or anyone else, for that matter.
It has, however, forever changed the way I think of the Crucifixion and the sacrifice Christ willingly made. It made me want to be a better Christian. It made me realize yet again that His love for all mankind is infinite and incomprehensible.
The movie begins with Jesus praying in the garden. Satan appears, trying to convince Jesus that the burden is too heavy for any one man to bear. Gibson's androgynous Satan has a serene face which is beautiful and without wrinkle or blemish, the way Satan -- and indeed temptation -- always appears to be.
Thereafter, he haunts the worst scenes in the movie.
Those who ended up cheering for His crucifixion were, in large part, the same people who laid palm leaves and cloaks at His feet less than a week earlier. There is but one explanation as to how this could have happened: Satan was indeed present.
The portrayal of Judas, constantly antagonized by demons, was excellent, and the depiction of those demons was chilling.
Gibson is, it turns out, a master at knowing just when to stop. Every time I thought I could not bear to see one more thing, he flashes back to earlier, calmer, times; never for long, but just long enough to allow the audience to breathe again.
He takes the audience right the very edge, then grabs their collective hand and yanks them back from the precipice.
For me, His near-unrelenting agony was not as disturbing as the sudden realization that I have focused almost entirely on the agony of the crucifixion itself and have, until now, never given a lot of thought to the misery He suffered in the hours prior to that time.
Anyone who believes that this movie was anti-Semitic misses the entire point of not only the movie, but of Jesus's entire mission here on earth.
This movie was about the love, forgiveness, and sacrifice Jesus has for us –- all of us. Those who didn't like the movie probably didn't like the book, either.