Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Breaking Of The Bread.

I received this e-mail a few days back and have been meaning to post it for all to read. I've written before about the Passion Movie and will write about it again. I believe that Rick Warren is correct when he called it the start of the Third Great Awakening. I have not seen it. I have listened to my best friend Mitch sob on the phone for forty minutes as he described his experience watching it. Get ready secular America. On February 25th you are going to be hit in the teeth with the truth!

Check this e-mail out:
This is written by Jody Dean who is a member of Richland Hills Church
of Christ
and is a Dallas TV anchor.


There've been a ton of emails and forwards floating around recently
from those who've had the privilege of seeing Mel Gibson's "The Passion Of
The Christ" prior to its actual release. I thought I'd give you my reaction
after seeing it last night.

The screening was on the first night of "Elevate!", a weekend-long
seminar for young people at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. There were
about 2,000 people there, and the movie was shown after several speakers had
taken the podium. It started around 9 and finished around 11...so I reckon
the film is about two hours in length. Frankly, I lost complete track of
time - so I can't be sure.

I want you to know that I started in broadcasting when I was
I've been in the business of writing, performing, production, and
broadcasting for a long time. I've been a part of movies, radio,
television, stage and other productions - so I know how things are done. I know
about soundtracks and special effects and make-up and screenplays. I think
I've seen just about every kind of movie or TV show ever made - from
extremely inspirational to extremely gory. I read a lot, too - and have covered
stories and scenes that still make me wince. I also have a vivid
imagination, and have the ability to picture things as they must have
happened - or to anticipate things as they will be portrayed. I've also
seen an enormous amount of footage from Gibson's film, so I thought I knew
what was coming.

But there is nothing in my existence - nothing I could have read, seen,
heard, thought, or known - that could have prepared me for what I saw
on screen last night.

This is not a movie that anyone will "like". I don't think it's a movie
anyone will "love". It certainly doesn't "entertain". There isn't even
the sense that one has just watched a movie. What it is, is an experience -
on a level of primary emotion that is scarcely comprehensible. Every shred
of human preconception or predisposition is utterly stripped away. No one
will eat popcorn during this film. Some may not eat for days after they've
seen it. Quite honestly, I wanted to vomit. It hits that hard.

I can see why some people are worried about how the film portrays the
Jews. They should be worried. No, it's not anti-Semitic. What it is, is
entirely shattering. There are no "winners". No one comes off looking "good" -
except Jesus. Even His own mother hesitates. As depicted, the Jewish leaders
of Jesus' day merely do what any of us would have done - and still do.
They protected their perceived "place" - their sense of safety and security,
and the satisfaction of their own "rightness". But everyone falters.
Caiphus judges. Peter denies. Judas betrays. Simon the Cyrene balks. Mark runs
away. Pilate equivocates. The crowd mocks. The soldiers laugh. Longinus still
stabs with his pilus. The centurion still carries out his orders. And
as Jesus fixes them all with a glance, they still turn away. The Jews, the
Romans, Jesus' friends - they all fall. Everyone, except the Principal
Figure. Heaven sheds a single, mighty tear - and as blood and water
spew from His side, the complacency of all creation is eternally shattered.

The film grabs you in the first five seconds, and never lets go. The
brutality, humiliation, and gore is almost inconceivable - and still
probably doesn't go far enough. The scourging alone seems to never end,
and you cringe at the sound and splatter of every blow - no matter how
steely your nerves. Even those who have known combat or prison will have
trouble, no matter their experience - because this Man was not conscripted. He
went willingly, laying down His entirety for all. It is one thing for a
soldier to die for his countrymen. It's something else entirely to think of
even a common man dying for those who hate and wish to kill him. But this is
no common man. This is the King of the Universe. The idea that anyone
could or would have gone through such punishment is unthinkable - but this Man
was completely innocent, completely holy - and paying the price for others.
He screams as He is laid upon the cross, "Father, they don't know. They
don't know..."

What Gibson has done is to use all of his considerable skill to portray
the most dramatic moment of the most dramatic events since the dawn of
time. There is no escape. It's a punch to the gut that puts you on the
canvas, and you don't get up. You are simply confronted by the horror of what was
done - what had to be done - and why. Throughout the entire film, I found
myself apologizing.

What you've heard about how audiences have reacted is true. There was
no sound after the film's conclusion. No noise at all. No one got up. No
one moved. The only sound one could hear was sobbing. In all my years of
public life, I have never heard anything like that.

I told many of you that Gibson had reportedly re-shot the ending to
include more "hope" through the Resurrection? That's not true. The Resurrection
scene is perhaps the shortest in the entire movie - and yet it packs a
punch that can't be quantified. It is perfect. There is no way to negotiate
the meaning out of it. It simply asks, "Now, what will you do?"

I'll leave the details to you, in the hope that you will see the film -
but one thing above all stands out, and I have to tell you about it. It
comes from the end of Jesus' temptations in the wilderness - where the Bible
says Satan left him "until a more opportune time." I imagine Satan never
quit tempting Christ, but this film captures beyond words the most opportune
time. At every step of the way, Satan is there at Jesus' side -
imploring Him to quit, reasoning with Him to give up, and seducing Him to
surrender. For the first time, one gets a heart-stopping idea of the sense of
madness that must have enveloped Jesus - a sense of the evil that was at His
very elbow. The physical punishment is relentless - but it's the sense of
psychological torture that is most overwhelming. He should have quit.
He should have opened His mouth. He should have called 10,000 angels. No
one would have blamed Him. What we deserve is obvious. But He couldn't do
that. He wouldn't do that. He didn't do that. He doesn't do that. It was not
and is not His character. He was obedient, all the way to the cross - and
you feel the real meaning of that phrase in a place the human heart usually
doesn't dare to go. You understand that we are called to that same
level of obedience. With Jesus' humanity so irresistibly on display, you
understand that we have no excuse. There is no place to hide.

The truth is this: Is it just a "movie"? In a way, yes. But it goes far
beyond that, in a fashion I've never felt - in any forum. We may think
we "know." We know nothing. We've gone 2,000 years - used to the idea of a
pleasant story, and a sanitized Christ. We expect the ending, because
we've heard it so many times. God forgive us. This film tears that all away.
It's is as close as any of us will ever get to knowing, until we fully know.
Paul understood. "Be urgent, in and out of season."

Luke wrote that Jesus reveals Himself in the breaking of the bread.
"The Passion Of The Christ" shows that Bread being broken.

Go see this movie.

His, and His alone.

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