March 1, 2004
The Book Is Better
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was
crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that
brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we
are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
A few weeks ago I dedicated several Truah messages to
some of the issues surrounding Mel Gibson's "The
Passion." In the years that I have been writing
TorahBytes and now Truah, I have never received so
much response over any one subject. One person wrote
me and encouraged me to put a hold on discussing the
movie until after I had seen it – a fair comment.
I went opening night. Even after all that has been
said about this movie, I really didn't know what to
expect. Honestly, I was a little nervous. I had read
that this was one of the most violent films ever, and
I tend to stay away from violent films. I am the kind
of person that when I see a movie, it gets replayed in
my head over and over again, regardless of the subject
matter. I didn't know how I would handle it.
Another reason for my hesitancy was over how I would
react to the actual subject matter. Would I find it
anti-Semitic as some were claiming? Would I be deeply
moved by the sufferings of Yeshua? Would I be
distracted by things in the movie that were either not
really in the Bible or were misinterpretations?
Some who had already seen the movie were reporting
that it was life changing. Others that it was bad.
Some said that it was horrific. Others were deeply
touched by the love therein. Reading the vast array of
reactions, one might think that people were not all
referring to the same movie.
About three quarters of the way through, I leaned over
and said to one of my friends I was with, "The Book is
better." Just like so many attempts to take a writer's
work to the big screen, Gibson's grand effort falls
short. Millions of dollars, the utilization of the
original languages, graphic images, moving music,
masterful directing, and great acting can in no way
fully convey the essence of what is contained in the
God chose to reveal himself through words, not
pictures, not moving pictures. The inability of images
to convey heavenly reality is expressed over and over
again in the Scriptures.
Yet I do think there is much potential for good to
come out of Gibson's film. It is good for people to be
confronted with what Yeshua did on our behalf. Few of
us understand the enormity of the price he paid. Did
Gibson go overboard? If he did, not by much.
The Church needs to deal with the charge of anti-
Semitism. So many don't understand why some in the
Jewish community are uncomfortable with the film. It's
time for Christians to listen to the pain of the
Jewish people and learn how the truths of the Gospel
could heal those wounds.
I am sure that this film will result in many people
taking the time to deal with deep spiritual issues
that we tend to avoid. It's just that the answers to
those questions are not found in Gibson's movie. They
are found in the Bible.