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I Can't Watch It

"The Passion of the Christ," a movie written and directed by Mel Gibson, was released in 2004, while Steve and I were living in Ecuador. Pirated versions quickly appeared for sale on street corners for a couple of dollars. I learned from my colleagues that an edit had been made to match the Catholic culture of the country. In that case, instead of Jesus saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit," the "fixed" version had Him saying, "Mary, into your hands I commit my spirit." I remember seeing advertisements and clips about the movie on television. Those brief scenes were more than I could stand. I've seen many examples of "man's inhumanity to man" in my life, but this was the absolute worst.

Gibson's movie depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus, and the cruelty He endured is unimaginable. Being beaten is one thing. We see that constantly on the news and in drama series, but scourging (also called flogging or flagellation) is something else entirely. A crucifixion sentence was proceeded by scourging, because it would speed up a person's death on the cross. Pilate, however, ordered a scourging for Jesus even BEFORE the crucifixion sentence was finalized.

According to an article by David McClister in Truth Magazine: "The victim of a scourging was bound to a post or frame, stripped of his clothing, and beaten with the flagellum from the shoulders to the loins. The beating left the victim bloody and weak, in unimaginable pain, and near the point of death. It is no doubt that weakness from his scourging was largely the reason Jesus was unable to carry his cross all the way to Golgotha." McClister also describes the flagellum like this: "The flagellum was a whip with several (at least three) thongs or strands, each perhaps as much as three feet long, and the strands were weighted with lead balls or pieces of bone. This instrument was designed to lacerate. The weighted thongs struck the skin so violently that it broke open."

All of that cruelty took place BEFORE Jesus was nailed to a cross.

An innocent man who had led a sinless life endured all of that for ME and for YOU. Jesus never sinned, but I have sinned. My sins keep me from being in right standing with God. Something has to happen to fix that problem. For those who lived in Old Testament times, the price was paid with the sacrifice of an animal without a blemish. But then God sent His Son Jesus to the earth to be the perfect sacrifice for my sins and yours.

John 3:16-17 -- For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Every year during this week and especially on this day -- Good Friday -- I am forced to remember what my sins caused. I'll think about it. I'll read about it. Tonight at church I'll sing about it. I will thank God again for the gift of salvation. But I CANNOT WATCH THAT MOVIE.

Luke 23:33-34 "And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

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