thoughts/ideas/opinions from scott hodge

Tuesday, January 20


Today I had the privilege of attending a premiere showing of the movie, “The Passion of Christ”, written and directed by Mel Gibson. It was held at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Mel Gibson himself was there in person and was interviewed immediately following the movie.

The movie is about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life before his death and resurrection.

Prior to attending the premiere, I had read several reports from people who had attended a showing of the movie and they all basically said that the movie was “life changing”. Several people reported that after the movie the audience would sit there completely quiet in almost a trance like state not knowing how to respond to what they had just witnessed.

When we walked into the auditorium of Willow Creek (WC), there were greeters at the doors asking everyone to take a handful of tissues. They were all saying, “You will need them!” Being that they hadn’t seen the movie, I’m sure they were told to tell people that based on previous showings. So I grabbed a couple and put them in my pocket and found my seat.

As I was waiting for the movie to begin I made a decision that I was not going to be swayed by what I’ve read or by what people told me when I walked into the auditorium; but instead, I wanted to be completely open minded towards this movie, lest I be swayed by the power of suggestion. (said somewhat jokingly...)

After some preliminaries and a short introduction by Lee Strobel (former teaching pastor at WC & author of The Case For Christ) the movie began. The movie opened up with these words from Isaiah 53:5, “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.” It immediately shot to the opening scene of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone when it opens in February. But I will try to explain my general thoughts about the movie.

First of all, the movie was done very well. It was not a “Christian” made movie. What I mean by that is that it wasn’t a flimsy Christian produced movie. Mel Gibson put somewhere around $35 million dollars of his OWN money into this project. The acting overall was very good, the special effects were good (although, the version I saw today was not the final cut – so some of the effects were a tad lacking…). But it is certainly a movie that I would be proud to invite a friend to. (Not like the “Left Behind” movie – sorry guys, but nice try…)

Secondly, the movie was extremely violent. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a person so badly beaten and tortured as Jesus was in this movie.

There was a scene where the guards were continually beating Jesus with a cat of nine tails (whips made with pieces of bone, glass & other sharp objects attached to it) and the pieces of bone, glass, etc… got stuck deep into his flesh and the guard had to pull really hard to get it unstuck, if you will, from his back.

During these violent scenes, I found myself tensing up and at times almost not breathing for several seconds. I would catch myself and take note of my reaction and literally force myself to take a deep breath. I can’t remember when a movie affected me this strongly. It was as though, in a way, you were suffering along with Jesus himself - like you were right there witnessing it first hand.

The movie is rated R and it is strictly because of the violence. I agree with Mel Gibson when he said that he wouldn’t suggest children under the age of 12 or 13 seeing the movie unless parents knew they could handle it.

Skipping ahead… At the end of the movie I, along with the 4,000 other pastors in the auditorium just sat in our chairs completely silent. You could have heard a pin drop. The only noise in the room were the fans of the projection systems. The only time I have ever felt so emotionally moved after a movie was watching "Schindler’s List" several years ago.

Someone asked me tonight how the movie was and the word “good” just didn’t seem to fit. The only word I can think of to describe it is “disturbing.” Disturbing to say the least…

After the movie Bill Hybels, pastor of WC, interviewed Mel Gibson for about a half an hour. It was very, very good… I was impressed by Mel’s humility and candor. It’s obvious that Mel is a follower of Christ - not because of the movie itself, but because of his obvious outward faith in Jesus. One of the things Mel said today that really stuck out to me was, “Jesus could have pricked his finger and used a drop of blood to save humanity – but instead he chose to give it all – he shed every drop of his blood to save mankind.”

Powerful statement.

Well I’m going to stop there for the night. I might write more as I have time to digest the movie a little bit more.

Overall, I give the movie a thumbs up!