There are Bible passages that we read often and we may become used to them. This could be the case with the passages associated with the passion and crucifixion of Christ, as at a minimum, we read them once a year and there are countless movies and paintings about them. It is helpful to “see” the scenes from a different perspective every now and then.
Last Sunday I had just that opportunity. We teach Sunday School to 24 children ages 9-12. We have read many Bible stories about Jesus and His passion, but on Sunday we watched the second half of the movie “Son of God.” Seeing the stories through a movie was so much more impactful for them. Only two children had seen any of the Jesus movies out there, and so they were totally gripped by it. I thought it was interesting to see what moved or shocked them the most.
The children, of course, felt pain by how the Temple guards and the Roman soldiers treated Jesus. But it was less about “how can they do this to the Son of God”, and more “How can it be possible for people to be so cruel and cause such excruciating physical pain on another human being?” They found it incomprehensible that humans could willingly cause such torture. These are pure eyes that have not seeing what humans filled with sin can do: ISIS tortures, Al-Qaeda bombings, the Abu Grahib prison abuses, and the violence that occurs in the US streets on a daily basis.
They were moved by the compassion that Jesus showed to His “enemies” from the beginning. How he did not fight the soldiers, told Peter to put away his sword, how he healed the ear of the very soldier that was there to arrest Him, how he patiently “took” the mocking, and how despite His painful and unjust torture, he still said “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
The children were also moved by those who shared in Jesus’ pain. For example, Simon, who helped him carry His cross. His mother Mary, who endured heart piercing pain as she witnessed the torture and execution of her son, and then held Him in her arms when His body was lowered from the cross. Mary Magdalene and the Apostle John who were with Him throughout. The women that cried and defended him as He carried His cross and even dried His face.
I also had my “aha” moment. I always thought of the high priests as people that felt threatened by Jesus, who could so confidently preach about God, a job reserved for them. They were also insulted by Jesus’ statements about their hypocrisy and how they were contributing to “making my Father’s temple into a marketplace.” (John 2:15). But I had never thought of how much they thought they were doing God’s work. The film showed them in their temple prayers and sacrifices as they probably celebrated how they swiftly dealt with a person committing blasphemy. I saw this as a warning to avoid hate and violence towards those whose words and actions go against what we believe. We most speak our truth, but always treat them with respect and dignity.