in honesty, many Christians don't want to watch the Passion

Why We Don’t Like Watching the Passion of the Christ


Easter 2013 has come and gone.

For some, it was a monumental day in their Christian walk, while for others it was mostly an ordinary Sunday. Still a few others were confused at how or why spring break came at the end of March instead of somewhere in April. Nonetheless Easter, whether it was massively celebrated or largely ignored, is (for Christians) the culmination of the Passion Week – the week where Christians mark and remember the final week of Christ’s life. And ever since 2004’s Passion of the Christ, modern Christians have had the option of glimpsing, through the lens of hollywood, the final 48 hours of Christ’s life.

After that lengthy intro, let me finally get to the real point: in honesty, many Christians don’t want to watch the Passion. This is a sentiment that is fairly common, whether it is ever made public or not. This phenomenon also occured in our church this year. We’ve got to ask, why? Why do Christians, God’s own people, not enjoy watching the Passion? After all, the Cross is a central point to a Biblical Christian faith. It is where our sins are dealt with in one final blow by Christ not with a tool or a weapon but by his own hands.

And so what is going on?

I propose that we, as Christians, generally do not enjoy watching the Passion because we don’t like the fact that it makes us confront our sins and our sinfulness, both of which we so easily grow accustomed to. Another way to put it is this: we don’t like watching the Passion because it actively attacks our complacency. There is no way to sit through the movie without having some heavy thoughts upon our love affair with sin, and our unwillingness to give it up. And that thought is at the least uncomforting, and at most horrifyingly damning. If this be true, then what is more unsettling is the thought that it is not the movie itself that disturbs us, but it is the Gospel. The Gospel rudely confronts us where ever, whenever, however we are and reminds us of the enormous size of our utter sinfulness. And as Rev. John Piper once said, the Gospel isn’t very precious or valuable without the horrible justice of God from which it saves us (from the Forward in Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution). And so our easy complacency will have our focus locked in on the graciousness of God apart from seeing the whole beautiful picture which shows us that God’s grace is indeed beautiful and magnificent because of the horrible judgement which it saves us from!

Perhaps this is what the writer of Hebrews was shooting for when he wrote: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We can all easily imagine that having a sword thrust in your body is painful and unpleasant. But in a sense, that is what the Gospel does. It penetrates deep into our lives, and into the parts where we want to keep God out. But Jesus made sure that can’t happen when He tore the curtain in the holy of holies (Matt 27:51). No the Gospel rudely interrupts our complacency and forces us to confront the truth of the Gospel daily.

And so in the end, no matter how much we don’t really want to watch the Passion. We must. If for no other reason than to be reminded once more of the monstrousity of sin upon, not just damaging upon humans, but robbing God of His people, and at what great cost (praise God) He’s willing to go to reclaim us. We need a daily dose of the Gospel, in the whatever way it comes to us.

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