For the first time since its release, Josh and I sat down and watched the Passion of the Christ together on Thursday night. It had been eight years since I experienced the movie (because it's something you experience, not just watch!) and I was struck by just how different it all felt to me. Eight years ago I sat in a theater fully knowing the story and what Jesus' sacrifice meant, but I was not living a life that really reflected that. I sat in a pew on (some) Sunday mornings, but my choices and values that I lived out Monday thru Saturday were not based on any strong pillars of faith. My life at that time centered around me: what I wanted, what I needed, what I thought was best for me. The faith I lived out was more from the book of Kim than any other book of the Bible and occassionally influenced by those around me. Even though I knew, as I have always known, that God loved me and sent His only son to die for me, it was only that: knowledge. But it wasn't my life. I sat in the theater with my sister and brother-in-law and bawled my eyes out, mainly because I could not get over the brutality of it all. Christ's death is still one of the most horrific acts of humankind (and I don't think that was an accident) and even though I left the theater understanding the true sacrifice a little bit more, it did nothing to change the way I was living.
As I sat and watched this with my husband the other night it was so different than that last time. Sure, I was still outraged by the hateful way Jesus was treated, but in the back of my mind I just kept reassuring myself that it had to happen this way. It was all planned out to long before Jesus was born. This time I also noticed tiny details that I would've overlooked before- how the disciples all fell asleep while waiting in the garden, why Jesus starts his sentences with 'Amen', how water would pour out of Him when He was pierced on the cross, etc.- because now I not only know the story, but I've read it numerous times and have a more intimate understanding of it. Before seeing some of these details on screen, I would wonder if certain ones would be depicted, and they always were, just as I had read them- small details that I never would have picked up on the first time around. Small details I would not have picked up on had I never read the accounts of His death for myself.
More than anything, however, I could not bear the thought of what Mary went through that day. Now that I have seen this film through a mother's eyes it completely tore me up. Mary knew this day was coming, but even she could not have imagined what she would have to witness that day. As she watched her son be beaten, mopped up his blood, and kissed his feet after his death I wondered to myself, 'could I have endured the same pain? Could I watch my own son go through that sort of brutal punishment for a crime he did not commit? Would I stay there until the bitter end?' But when I got home and cuddled my own precious angel I knew the answer without a doubt. Absolutely I would. She was a mother like any other who could not bear the thought of leaving her son to go through pain alone, even though the pain he felt was much different than how she suffered. This time I cried mostly for Mary, for her pain, and for the sacrifice she made for us, too. I thought of my Aunt Claudia, how she must've felt after my cousin Tommy died in a motorcycle accident, and how holding onto his lifeless body was the only thing she could do to ease his pain, even though it was more to try and somehow ease hers. Mothers should never have to lose their sons (or children in general). I've always believed this, but now that I have my own really hits home. God chose to lose His son for us. Actually, God chose to crush His son for us. To have him brutally beaten until he was unrecognizable. To have him publicly mocked and shamed. To have Him hung on a cross to die in the most painful form of capital punishment that this world has ever seen. And He did that for me. Yep, me, who lived by my own wild ways for years and years; it doesn't matter anymore because He always waited and wanted me back. And He did that for YOU. The God of the universe, who created the earth and everything on it, cares so deeply about you and me that He sacrificed what was most precious to Him. And this Easter, I am so very grateful and feeling so very blessed. It truly is the greatest love-story ever written.
This weekend as you spend time with your families, go to church, hunt eggs, and enjoy the (hopefully) beautiful spring weather, take some time to remember what this day is truly all about. As followers of Christ we tend to make a bigger deal out of Christmas, but this day is truly what sets us free. Jesus was beaten and killed, rose from the dead, and left behind an empty tomb- his happy ending is indeed ours, too. If you don't know the story I would encourage you to read it and you can find it in all four Gospels in the Bible. And if you have not seen the movie I would encourage you to watch it, and make sure you have a box of Kleenex nearby. And if you can, look past the inhumanity of those who hated Him and instead focus on the fact that He did this because of those who He loves. He loves you. He loves me. And that is something worth celebrating.
From our house to yours, have a very happy Easter holiday!
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”