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.