I watch “The Passion of the Christ” every few years. As someone who has been programed to hear God best through movies and literature- coupled with the ability to learn visually- it’s a supplementary reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and a film that the Lord uses greatly in my life.
So I’m watching it today. And the beginning starts in the Garden (for you visual learners, it’s this part here.) And I’m amazed how new life started in a garden much like the old did- Gethsemane, Eden. And how our Lord got it right and changed everything.
And I am struggling with temptation and stress. It is comforting to see the God of All right there, right in the middle of the most overwhelming event in history, face splotchy with blood and sweat, and still talking to God. Still willing to to whatever it takes.
But what’s really hitting me is how Jesus deals with Satan. When the devil shows up, Jesus keeps praying. He keeps conversing with His Father, whether He responds or not. He clings, emotions aside. This action speaks of knowledge and confidence in a truth that supersedes all.
When Satan asks whom He belongs to, Jesus is still praying, “Adonai, Adonai.” Father, Father. Sometimes getting rid of Satan is as easy is stating your identity- a child of the King.
When Satan semi-manifests as a snake, Jesus gets aggressive- literally stomping on it’s head with one decisive strike, not even giving it a chance to tempt (another rectification of Eden). We too can do this. One of the best things I’ve ever heard is Pastor Perry Noble instructing his congregation to tell Satan to “go to Hell, the only place he belongs,” when under temptation. Do it! It’s effective. Throw some Scripture at him. Be feisty- do not take him lying down.
I also love that Satan is the only thing here that receives Jesus’ wrath. Notice how he peacefully goes with the soldiers came to arrest him, who taunt Him. Instead of throwing lightning bolts, he heals after Peter’s violence leaves one ear-less. “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword, ” he says with all the patient exasperation of a parent. Yet remember how the Armor of God includes the Sword of the Spirit (“the word of God”; Ephesian 6:17); our aggression is for the evil in the spiritual realms. If Peter really wanted to help, he could have stayed awake to pray as Jesus had asked.
Lastly, I found it powerful that here Satan is depicted as using simple taunts to depress Jesus. When describing the futility of Christ’s mission and his ability to succeed, Satan just says, “No. Never,” unblinkingly and with incredible focus. Satan, who (for lack of a better term) sucks, knows our weakness, can hone in on them with the precision of heat-seeking missile, and oftentimes works in really simple ways to throw us off. Indeed, he is a roaring lion waiting for the opportune moment. (1 Peter 5:8, horribly paraphrased.) The good news? He will not win. The only place for him is Hell and that is where he will stay eternally. Jesus wins! Remember this, cling to this on bad days. It’s true!
While “The Passion of the Christ” is by no means a replacement for the Bible, I see it as a conduit to spiritual understanding and growth. The knowledge of our Lord Jesus can be found anywhere, I believe; we’ve just got to look.
My prayer is that you revel in the beauty of our Savior Jesus this Easter.
All my love,