Seeing Love Through the Violence

Passion of the Christ was made in 2004 based on the timeless story of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; however, most of the movie is scenes of whipping, violence and mob mentality. Although a main theme is violence, one has to look past all the blood and gore to see the true theme of love. The trailer for Passion of the Christ has titles that introduce the film saying:

Two thousand years ago, in a time of expectation, one man would challenge everything. His message was love. The power, the grace, the passion of the Christ.

The “challenge” that Jesus imposed upon the Roman government and religious leaders caused chaos that led to the extreme violence that the officials inflicted on Him. Interspersed through the theme of violence in Passion of the Christ are seemingly small actions by Jesus and others around him showing love and compassion.

            Jesus Christ took it upon himself to bear the sin of the world, endure beatings and whippings, and die on the cross for the salvation of others. Even with Satan taunting Him saying:

Do you really believe that one man can bear the full burden of sin?…It is far too heavy. Saving their souls is too costly.

He defied him to save the world displaying a fierce act of love to do the unthinkable. After Jesus was captured, He had to endure forty preliminary whippings by the Roman soldiers. Even after He was tortured and bloody, He struggled to pull Himself up to a standing position as if to ask for round two. This act showed a sense of His voluntary nature, which left the soldiers and crowd stunned, but it showed that He was willing to take on even more of their sin. A flashback showed Jesus preaching a message of love for even one’s enemies. While He hung on the cross, He followed his preaching by asking God to forgive His persecutors despite their hatred towards Him. Jesus loved the world, and because of that love, He died on the cross to redeem the sin of the world.

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"Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." (Time Stamp 1:44:37)

            Passion of the Christ also shows other people doing things portraying their love for Jesus. Seraphia wipes His face and tries to give Him water even with the fighting and chaos going on all around her. Simon, although reluctant at first, helped Jesus carry the cross and while doing so, encouraged Him and helped Him make it to the mountain. Even though Seraphia and Simon’s actions are small in comparison to Jesus’s, they still show the compassion and kindness that Jesus values. Mary, Jesus’s mother, is shown throughout the movie watching the torture of her son from a distance. As He hung on the cross, she even offers to die with Him. Most of the people in this film were against Jesus and wanted Him to die; however, there were some who cried at His pain and showed instances of love. There is no question that this film is filled with violence and hatred, but director Mel Gibson made it imperative that one also examine the underlying forces of love to truly understand his purpose of making this movie. 

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(Time Stamp 1:49:58)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Seeing Love Through the Violence

  1. annacantwell

    I think the flashbacks to Jesus’ teachings are key in this film to understanding the powerful theme of love that motivates all the blood and gore. Each flashback provides either a specific instance of Jesus demonstrating his compassion or love for his Father, or Jesus preaching the Gospel. Both of these things directly motivated his actions. If he did not love God (as his father), he would not have done something so painful on many levels that only God had asked him to do. While many were overwhelmed at the violence in this movie, I think it is a product of the time in which the film is set. Crucifixion would be seen as a horrific act today, but then it was commonplace, the expected punishment for robbers, blasphemers, etc. This idea, combined with the fact that Jesus’ motivations of love and compassion are clearly displayed, give cause to the intense violence that Mel Gibson portrays.

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