The Passion of Jesus – Discussion #2

April 10, 2004

We mentioned last week why we’re doing this:

#1: With all the discussion and questions buzzing around from the movie, “The Passion of Christ,” we thought it would be a good time to make sure we keep the biblical version in mind and let the Word of God be our source of truth.

** Note: You know that we don’t center our teaching around the next ‘hot topic’ in the media or jump on the next cultural issue that comes along – but from time to time, it’s good to make sure we’re thinking biblically regarding relevant issues -- both for ourselves and the people God has place around us who may be asking questions that have never been asked before!

#2: With this being Easter Sunday, and the focus we’ve had on our Passion Play -- Whatbetter time for a ‘review’ or have a discussion regarding the events that led up to His death and the resurrection?

Let’s pick up the questions from where we left off last week:

6. Q: What Crime Did Jesus Commit?

“Jesus’ crime must have been horrific to warrant such abuse. The Roman soldiers, religious leaders, the venomous mob – everyone boiled with wrath toward him. But exactly what had Jesus done to deserve this? Surely he wouldn’t have been so aggressively condemned if he hadn’t done something truly reprehensible. What crime did he commit? Why was he crucified? What was the real reason Jesus was sentenced to this gruesome death?” – p. 24

- Maybe a better question would be, Q: What crime was He accused of committing?

  • John 19:7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be(claimed to be) the Son of God."

Q: What evidence do we have that Jesus was the Son of God?

- Consider the following:

  • Performing miracles (both the Jewish Talmud and Islamic Koran concede He performed supernatural acts – John records 9 miracles He performed)
  • Living a sinless life (two of his closest companions, John and Peter, observed his moral perfections; see 1 John 3:5 and 1 Peter 2:22);
  • Fulfilling ancient Messianic prophecies against all mathematical odds – the place He was born, the time he was born, a virgin giving birth, etc.
  • His resurrection from the dead – seen by over 500 people, the Apostles, etc.

- So the ANSWER to question regarding His guilt is: NONE – He was sinless – He was telling the truth – He IS the Son of God!!

  • 1 John 3:5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

- Even Pilate said that he found “no grounds for the death penalty.”

- The crowds response: “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar’s – anyone who claims to be a king, apposes Caesar”

> Pilate gave into the FEAR OF MAN!!

7. Q: Why do you think Jesus was treated with so much hatred and animosity?

A: Jesus’ message went against the religious leaders of the day – their religiosity was under attack – they were threatened!

- The brutality was a reflection of the wickedness of man’s heart – to attack the creation is to attack the Creator in whose image we are made (Gen. 1)

Note: If they did it to Jesus, what can we expect? SAME THING

  • John 15:20 “. . . If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”

** If we don’t see this, then it’s either the grace of God giving us a window of opportunity, or we may not be Christlike enough to cause anyone to notice!

8. Q: Did It Really Happen Like That? (i.e. the way it was depicted in the movie)

- I want to read a rather lengthy quote – please listen carefully:

“When Roman officials handed down Jesus’ sentence, it was a harsh one – death. But Jesus’ punishment was not a simple, swift execution; he was condemned to die on a cross. In ancient Rome, crucifixion was designed to be a combination of physical torture and psychological humiliation, as well as a warning to other would-be criminals not to step out of line. This death penalty was reserved for the most heinous of criminals – traitors to the Roman Empire, insurrectionists, and murderers.

Jesus’ punishment involved torture that lasted for hours. People spit in his face, struck him with their fists, and hurled insults at him. He endured the mocking ceremony of a thorny crown being shoved onto his skull. Then he endured beatings so severe that they left gaping wounds. A third-century historian named Eusebius describes a Roman flogging: “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.

Later, Jesus staggered under the weight of the very cross upon which he would be nailed. As he was winding up the road to the place of his execution, he collapsed, unable to take another step. A member of the crowd, Simon from Cyrene, was pressed into service to carry it the rest of the way to Golgotha. Finally, Jesus was affixed to the cross and left to die.” – P. 24

Answer: YES [except worse!!!]– and the movie does the best job possible without a live video tape of the actual event (the comfort is that you know it’s only a re-enactment!

Note: But to really BE THERE, or to really WATCH a person being treated like that . . . !!!

9. Q: Given the graphic nature of the Passion of the Christ, how should a person react to the depiction of the crucifixion of Christ?

[various answers –MAJOR POINT: Motivation – serving – if Jesus did THAT, what do you have to complain about – is it too much to ask you to _________________??]

Q: How would you react to the soldiers if they were abusing, humiliating, and torturing you (or your son), as they did Jesus?

[various answers]

- A question that needs to be asked is this: Is the Bible Reliable?

- Jesus said in John 17:17, “Thy Word is truth”

“It has been said that people will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely think they’re true, but people won’t die for their religious beliefs if they know their beliefs are false. Consider that in all of history, Jesus’ disciples were in a unique position to know for a fact whether Jesus did, indeed, return from the dead. They were willing to face torture and death, but they never disavowed their claim that Jesus was the unique Son of God who proved his divinity by his resurrection. As Josh McDowell has said, nobody knowingly and willingly dies for a lie.” – P. 40-41

[Review the Handout on the Reliability of the Scriptures]

10. Why Did Jesus Suffer And Die?

“Few circumstances are more heartbreaking than someone losing their life in some senseless mishap. On the other hand, people are comforted—even inspired—by those who sacrifice their life for a great and noble cause.” – P. 43

A: Atonement for the price of our sin HAD to be paid – the OT sacrificial system required a lamb to be sacrificed, and the blood shed to ‘cover’ the sin of the people

11. According to the following verses, what was Jesus Christ’s ultimate reason for coming to this world?

** This is one of the MAJOR points OMITTED in the movie –the physical sufferings were bad, but those WERE NOT the FOCUS – it was the SPIRITUAL SUFFERING – i.e. becoming sin for us!!

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  • Isaiah 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

12. What is the difference between the OT lamb offered as a sacrifice for sin and the Lamb of God?

- This Lamb “took away” the sin of the world (John 1:29) , not simply covered the sin

- God’s Lamb would be raised from the DEAD!

13. Read the following verse. Would you be willing to suffer for the sake of another person? For whom and why? What would it take to motivate you to endure torture in the place of someone else?

  • Romans 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

14. What is the significance of the following statements Jesus made on the cross?

  • “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

* God the Father and God the Holy Spirit turning their backs on the Son

Quote: “God forsaken of God, I can’t understand it!” -- he’s right, but that is the significance of that statement!)

  • “It is finished”

* The original language is ONE word (tetelesti [ Tete,lestai ] – pronounced: Te-tell-es-tie) – its in the perfect tense which communicates a PAST action with ON-GOING continuous results!

* The word means to finish, complete, end fulfill, carry out, accomplish; come to an end, be over;

15. What Did the Resurrection Accomplish?

** IMPORTANT: Review the Handouts on the Resurrection – p. 60 in the book you received, Experiencing the Passion of Jesus – copies are in your wall file in your room!

1) It was the evidence that the price He paid was acceptable – that He truly was the Son of God – He had power to lay down His life, and He had power to raise it up!

  • 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.

2) He had the ability to conquer death

[Read the following verse]

  • Acts 2:22-24 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”
  • Revelation 1:17-18 “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

16. What does the following verse teach about the importance of the resurrection?

  • 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead . . . And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

[READ 1 Cor. 15:3-7]

17. Q: How is your belief or disbelief in the resurrection influenced by this very early biblical testimony of the many witnesses who saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion?

  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

18. How is This Story Relevant to Us?

  • Personal salvation decision – needs to made/certain
  • Your personal walk with Christ – Spiritual life
  • Your evangelistic efforts
  • Your view of missions

** Other Questions to consider (whatever you don’t get to this week, you can use next week)

1) Many people have questions about the role of Satan in the movie - what are some proper balances to keep in mind in regards to the message and purpose of Jesus Christ and the Passion of The Christ?

** MAJOR POINT: If it is NOT included in the Scriptures, it must not have been that significant in the mind of God. Frankly, the argument could be made, "Why would Satan want to even be at the crucifixion knowing that his head was getting smashed in 3 days!" That's the HOLLYWOOD version that has no biblical basis. The point being, it's fun to think what the "what could have beens" rather than keeping our focus on 'what's recorded in the text' and then acting on it! Satan loves to get the attention -- Luke 22:3 states Satan entered into Judas and then Judas went out and hanged himself -- it you want to talk about possibilities, then it's very possible that it was around the same time that Jesus was dying on the cross. And NO, Satan is not omnipresent -- he can only be at one place at any given moment.

2) Where was Jesus' father - Joseph during this time. We read a lot about Mary but what about Joseph?

Remember, the Bible NEVER refers to Joseph as Jesus’ father. Since it was the responsibility of the eldest son to see to it that his widowed mother was taken care of, many theologians believe that Joseph had actually died by the time of the crucifixion - hence Jesus' statement, "Woman, behold your son" and to the disciple, "Behold, your mother."

3) In the OT it seems like God had stricter judgments (plagues, catastrophes, etc.) but He seems to be "handling man" differently since the death of Christ. Any correlation?

Remember, we are living in the Age of Grace -- in the OT, they lived in the Age of the Law -- different dispensations (with different expectations and consequences, to some degree – e.g. it’s always wrong to murder a person no what the dispensation!). Yet there are times when God's wrath or judgment is demonstrated, but we don't know it because His Word does not specifically say that is the purpose of the event. Much of what we see today in other countries, USA knows NOTHING of this, are in essence the natural consequences of rejecting the truth -- therefore it's more the law of the harvest than a clear demonstration of God's wrath. His wrath was poured out on His Son at the cross. God will use other plagues, catastrophes, etc., during the Tribulation to get man's attention and to demonstrate His power.

4) Why didn’t the two thieves have to carry a cross as well as Jesus?

A: Possible = The hatred for Jesus was greater – his ‘crime’ was blasphemy?

5) Why did Jesus have to die such a brutal death?

A: What was required was a blood sacrifice (not necessarily all the brutality), the additional treatment was a revelation of the wickedness of man’s heart, and He borne the penalty for ALL of our sin; it was prophesied that He would be treated this way, and so in part it was a fulfillment of prophesy

6) How was the plan of salvation presented?

A: In the movie, not very clearly – that’s one of the criticisms (my view) is that it leaves a sinner hanging – thinking about all the cruelty done to Jesus, but no CLEAR reason for WHY it was done.

7) Was the splitting of the steps the same as the rending of the veil of the Temple?

A: No – it was the veil torn into 2 pieces – the veil was approx. 18 inches thick, so it would have taken a deliberate act of God to tear that curtain into 2 pieces

** NOTE: The tear falling from heaven is NOT biblical – that’s Hollywood!

8) Was the depiction of everyone being cruel realistic?

A: Yes – probably about as close to complete accuracy as you could get, short of a live video of what actually took place!

9) If the events took place in our society today, would the reaction be similar or different?

A: Look at the way some Christians are already treated – look at the way Jesus will be treated at the end of the millennium – nations will still rise up in war against Him – but He will again, defeat them.

10) What was the significance of Satan in the background?

A: I don’t know – it has no biblical significance – i.e. there is no mention of Satan being that involved in the events of that day – other than entering into Judas (Luke 22;3)

11) What was the significance of the child Satan was carrying?

A: I don’t know – again, it has no specific biblical reference

12) Mel Gibson said he used visions of a nun from an earlier time. Where does that fit into the validity of the movie?

A: It doesn’t – God is not speaking to us in visions/dreams – that’s special revelation – the ‘cannon’ of the Scriptures are closed; God speaks to us through His Word – if it’s not consistent with what He has inspired, it should be rejected.

INTERESTING: What if I had a vision that CONTRADICTED the nun’s – who do you believe? (don’t answer that!!!)

13) What was the significance of the children taunting Judas? Did that really take place?

A: There is no biblical record of this – the Scriptures simply state that Judas went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:25). Frankly, there was enough guilt on his part that he probably didn’t need anyone tantalizing him.

14) I have been puzzled about the significance of the scene after the scourging when the two Mary’s were presented with the white cloth from Pilot's wife and why they then proceeded to clean up the blood of Jesus beneath the scourging block and the surrounding area.

A: I believe that to be part of the Roman Catholic influence on the movie. There is no biblical account of that, and no real reason to believe that is what happened. It’s so easy to make an idol out of the ‘blood’ and forget the focus on the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.

15) Where were Jesus' hands pierced?

A: It could have been in the center of the palm, provided a person’s arms were also tied to the crossbar of the cross – if not, the flesh would be too thin to support the body weight of a person. MORE LIKELY – in the lower portion of the hand, near the wrist – that would allow for full support of the body weight without the flesh tearing away, and that is still part of the hand.

16) Was Judas demon possessed?

A: According to Luke 22:3, YES – by Satan himself – not one of his demons, but Satan!

- That’s why in the movie the issue of the kids harassing him is pure speculation – honestly, Satan did need any help – he had it all under control – he was IN Judas – confirming Judas’s LACK of salvation or person faith in Christ.

17) What was the significance of the black crow plucking out the eye of the thief and did it really do that?

A: I don’t know – but there is NO biblical record of that happening – more Hollywood Jesus speculation!

18) Was Jesus beaten with rods, then with cat of nine tails?

A: Paul made reference to being beaten with rods (2 Cor. 11:25) – this possibly could have been part of the Roman scourging process – the Gospel records did not clearly indicate that a rod was used, but it may have been part of the historical records of the way the Romans punished people.

19) What was the significance of Satan being shown in hell, or a place like hell, and screaming?

A: Probably a picture of his ultimate defeat and condemnation to an eternity in hell

  • Revelation 19:20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.