Tuesday, March 31, 2015

For God So Loved the World.

The past couple of days in seventh grade religion I have been showing my students "The Passion of the Christ" in installments. Yes, it is rated R, and yes, my students' parents all signed off on their children watching it. The thing is, it is rated R solely for the horrific violence it depicts -- violence that our Lord suffered in real life these many years ago. The thing is, I thought it was important for these kids to see it. We read Luke's account of the passion and death of Jesus, but now I felt like they needed to see it with their own eyes.

We are not able to watch it all at one time because class is only about 40 minutes long, and the movie is about two hours long. On Monday we watched the first 35 minutes, which shows Jesus praying in the garden, Judas betraying Him, and him being beaten on the way to seeing the religious leaders and Pilate. It was horrible, as you would expect, seeing Jesus being hit and beaten by these Roman guards.

But today. Oh today.

Today we watched Jesus's scourging at the pillar. I knew what was coming. I've seen this movie before. Only one or two of my students had seen it before, so right as the Roman guards were tying Jesus to the post, I said, "Guys, this gets graphic" as if those words would even skim the surface of being enough to impart the gravity of what they were about to see.

As we sat there, me at my desk and them at theirs, we watched Jesus being beaten mercilessly within an inch of His life. I should say -- I tried to watch, but often I had to turn away. I'll admit it, there were tears streaming down my face, and I think at least one or two of the students were tearing up also. If you haven't seen the movie, that scene goes on ... and on, and on, and on, and on. One thing that really gets me is when the movie shows Jesus lock eyes with his mother Mary. As he is being beaten, they just look at each other. And it is too much. Just a little boy and his mama. Mary just stands there, not making a sound, tears streaming down her face, as she witnesses the fulfillment of the prophesy that a sword would pierce her heart.


We watched through the scene where Jesus is crowned with thorns and then, regrettably, I had to turn it off because class was about to end. I stopped it about three minutes before the bell, though, because I knew we all needed time to decompress before second period. I turned the lights back on and told the kids as much. And I will tell you this -- those rambunctious 13-year-old boys and their energetic female classmate have NEVER been as quiet as they were in those moments. I asked if anyone had any thoughts to share and not one person raised their hand. I said, "There really is nothing to say, is there?"

I remarked to the kids that Jesus did this for us, for all of us, the whole world, but that he would have done it for any one of us individually. He would have done all that for just one. I also shared -- for them but also very much for me -- that every time we sin and turn away from God what we are doing is making a mockery of that sacrifice. Turning our back on that sacrifice.

I looked the movie up on the internet to find a link for it to share in the opening paragraph of this post, and I happened to see this review on Rotten Tomatoes:

Critics Consensus: The graphic details of Jesus' [sic] torture make the movie tough to sit through and obscure whatever message it is trying to convey.

And it made me laugh because that is EXACTLY the message the movie is trying to convey. That God so loved the world that He sent His only son so that we might not perish but have eternal life. And that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for the ransom of many. This is real life people. It really happened. Is it tough to watch? Oh man, absolutely. But it is a painful, painful truth. And one that is too easily forgotten by all of us.

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