Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ has generated more controversy in the
media than any movie in recent memory. One of the main criticisms has been that the
violence the movie depicts is excessive. The fact is that neither the flogging nor the
crucifixion as shown was as bad or as violent as the actual event – as I will explain later.
I became interested in the medical and engineering aspects of the crucifixion when, as a
relatively new believer, I attended medical school at the University of Miami in Florida
in 1974-1976. I already had my engineering doctorate so my medical training made it
fairly simple to work out the physiology of whole process, which was confirmed later in
the JAMA paper published by W. D. Edwards, et. al. in 1986. The engineering load
analysis, when added to the physiological information, will make it obvious why the
Roman form of crucifixion is the most horrible, cruel, painful and humiliating form of
execution ever devised.
I could describe it all in antiseptic impersonal terms removed from the actual event,
which would make it easier for our minds to bear. Instead, I will describe it as we are
going along following the events as they actually happened to our Lord and Savior as
depicted in the movie by Gibson. As a physician it is easy to be impersonal and
detached, but the subject matter demands that we experience it in our hearts as well as
our minds – so that we can know how great a price he paid to redeem us and so that we
may love him all the more. So, bear with me because this is going to be simultaneously a
horrifying and wonderful experience for us all.
Read more: The Passion of the Christ The Most Amazing Love Story of all Time
We must remember that what distinguished the crucifixion of Jesus was not the extent of physical pain, but rather that he was bearing the wrath of God for the sin of all those form whom he died. After all, many were crucified in the same physical manner. It was as Jesus tasted the sour wine that he declared “It is finished.” (Jeremiah 25:15ff.) In Christ God took from our hand that cup (Isaiah 51.22). While Gibson’s Jesus was more typically the Jesus of Roman Catholicism, of the via dolorosa, Gibson’s Jesus also reflected many of Gibson’s past movie roles. The sustained beatings administered to Jesus in the movie raised questions about his humanity. Unlike The Patriot’s Benjamin Martin, Lethal Weapon’s Detective Riggs, or William Wallace, Jesus wasn’t superhuman – he was fully divine and fully human. While movies and medical studies may stimulate thoughts and conversations, the preaching of the Word and the Lord’s Supper bring us into real communion with our risen Lord.
For more on this line of thinking, see http://refmin.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/the-son-of-god-seeing-vs-hearing/.