The Passion of the Christ
Review of the Movie and Bible Study are below
A personal Bible Study can be arranged for
those in our area, or Biblical questions answered by calling the Church office
at 845-298-8481 or e-mail to
Reviewed By Pastor Scott Harris
I will give you an overall evaluation, some specific Biblical errors in the
movie, and then some suggestions on how to take advantage of it forth cause of
I had mixed emotions about the movie. It was better than I expected it to be
especially in using “flashback” scenes to bring out who Jesus was and what He
taught. For anyone paying attention, they would understand that Jesus claimed to
be the Messiah, the son of God, who came to give His life for man’s sin and that
Jesus is the only way to the Father. However, the film does not tell a person
how to gain eternal life through what Jesus did. I was also pleased that while
the film definitely showed the cruelty of Jesus’ suffering, the film did not
emphasize the gore. While there was more blood shown than what could be true
(you wonder if he would have had any body fluids left), the flogging scene,
though violent, was not as bad as it may actually have been. On the negative,
some of the added material and quite a few errors from the Biblical accounts
gave the story a fictional element which detracted from the effort to depict the
truth. Some of the added material was helpful in filling in the gaps inherent in
a very narrowly focused story. I believe that the movie will cause people to
give serious consideration to Jesus Christ and His claims. It will emotionally
move people. Christians need to be prepared to answer people’s questions and
point them to saving faith in Jesus.
The movie opens with a quote from Isaiah 53 and then reveals Jesus praying in
the Garden of Gethsemane. It does not show Jesus praying three times, but it
does condense the essence of Jesus’ prayers, especially in Jesus’ desire for the
Father to provide another way, but yielding to the Father’s will and not his
own. A Satan figure is added to tempt Jesus, while not a Biblical account, it is
used to bring out the direct spiritual battle Satan is waging against God. Use
of a snake coming out from Satan’s robe and Jesus crushing its head are artistic
references to the prophecy in Genesis 3:15.
The arrest in Gethsemane fails in several facts. First, there was a”great
multitude” (Mt. 26:47) or a cohort (John 18:3) that came to arrest Jesus, and
the film only has a squad of temple guards. Second, this group fell to the
ground when Jesus answered “I am” to their statement that they were looking for
Jesus the Nazarene (John 18:6). This does not happen in the film. Third, the
show Judas as hesitant to identify Jesus. Matt. 26:49 says that Judas did this
“immediately.” The film does show Peter hacking off the ear of Malchus and Jesus
healing it while rebuking Peter, but only part of the Biblical dialog is given.
Fourth, the film depicts Jesus being beaten severely by these temple guards on
the way back to Caiaphas. However, these would be the same guards that refused
to arrest Jesus earlier, and they would have been disciplined to only arrest and
transport, not beat up an prisoner that was not yet charged or convicted.
The trial before Caiaphas is shown in the movie as a condensed version of the
all that happened. It does not depict Jesus being brought before Annas first
(John 18:12). It does a good job at showing the kinds of things that occurred
during Jesus’ trial. Most of the dialog is strait from the Scriptures. It does
bring out the illegal nature of the trial by adding Elders and members of the
Sanhedrin that questioned the trial. Such men, if they were known, would
probably not have been invited to this meeting. A couple of the major factual
errors in this scene is that the trial before Caiaphas took place at the high
priest’s house. There were not large crowds of additional people coming in and
out. Peter was able to get in because another disciple was able to persuade the
doorkeeper to let him in (John 18:15,16). Mary and Mary Magdalene were not
present as depicted in the film. Peter’s denials are condensed in themovie to
have happened in rapid succession instead of occurring over the length of the
trial. The movie also falsely portrays Peter as confessing his sin of denial to
Mary before running away. Overall, the portrayal of the trials before Pilate and
Herod are done very well. The trials before Pilate occurs at the Praetorium, but
not in it, for the Jews would not enter so as not to be defiled at Passover
(John 18:25). Especially good was the portrayal of Pilate as beingconflicted. He
wanted to release Jesus, but he was afraid of Caesar if an uprising occurred.
It is doubtful that the scourging occurred in public as presented in thefilm.
As noted above, the Jews would not enter into the Praetorium because it is
Passover, and the most likely place for such a scourging would have been within
the Roman compound. The film depicts the harsh realities of the scourging
without glorification of the gore. While Jesus’ battered body is clearly
depicted, the camera does not focus onthe wounds, but rather on those scourging
him and the emotional impact it was having on those watching. In reality, the
scene does not show the scourging to be as bad as it could have actually been.
The scriptures give little detail about what occurred as Jesus made Hisway to
Golgotha, other than that Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service to bear the
cross. Matthew & Luke indicate this occurred as he was being led out of the
Praetorium. Roman custom was that the condemned carried the cross member of the
cross to the place of crucifixion. Jesus was not in a physical condition to
carry it. The various stations of the cross are Catholic traditions. The
scriptural emphasis is not on either the scourging or the suffering on the way
to Golgatha, but on the crucifixion.
The crucifixion scene is done very well for the most part. Jesus’
last seven sayings are presented very powerfully. The cruelty of the
cross is shown, but not magnified. The earthquake following Jesus’
yielding His spirit and the rending of the veil in the Temple were very
good. There were a few minor inconsistencies, but of notable mention
are that 1) the soldiers were actually careful not to tear Jesus’ tunic
(John 19:24). 2)The movie depicts the soldiers breaking the legs of the thieves
because of fear of the earthquake, but they did so because the Jews requested it of Pilate as part of preparations for the Sabbath (see John 19:31-33). 3) The movie left
out the Centurion’s pronouncement, “Truly, this man was the Son of
God!” (Mark. 15:39) or praising God saying, “Certainly this man was
innocent” (Luke 23:47). The resurrection is shown, but very briefly.
Taking Advantage of the Film & Cautions
1) This film is not entertainment. It is a powerful portrayal of
Jesus’suffering and death for sin.
2) Any Christian desiring to see it, should read through the crucifixion
accounts in the gospels prior to going (Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-16; Luke 22-24;
John 18-20. Also John 13-17 would be good to read too since those chapters all occur that same night before going to Gethsemane. If you can read through all
this using a Gospel Harmony, it will be even better).
3) See it at an early showing so that you can talk about it afterward with
those who see it with you.The Passion
of the Christ
4) It is best to invite non-Christians to go with you. Be praying foryour
non-Christian friends before you go.
5) Be prepared to talk about Jesus’ passion (suffering & death) whether you
see the movie or not. Many in our community will be seeing it and there will be
many opportunities to talk with them about Jesus, who He is, what He did and His
offer of eternal life. See if you can get others to join you for a Bible study
on Jesus – whether it is with just you, a couple of others, a small group or at
church (see 6 below).
6) Bible Study material is available – see below and links at bottom of this page
Overall this is a very good movie depicting the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life
– from His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane through His crucifixion with a
brief cameo of His resurrection. The movie adds some material to the Biblical
narrative. Some of this is in an effort to bring out more of the story of Jesus.
Some of this is from various fictional traditions. The movie also leaves out
part of the Biblical narrative (to some degree this is to reduce the time length
of the movie).
The following are important questions to be considered in evaluating Jesus
Christ. The questions are followed by Biblical references that will provide the
answers. Study the books of Matthew, John and Romans to better understand Jesus’
claims about Himself and the way to salvation in Him.
1) Who is Jesus?
His Origin : John 1:1-3
Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20
Jesus’ Claims: John 8:54-59
The claims of others
His Friends: John 1:1,14
His Enemies: John 5:18
The claims of the Apostles: Philippians 2:5-11
Your conclusion on who Jesus is.
2) Why did Jesus come?
Romans 3:23; 6:23
Jesus’ Purpose: Matthew 1:21
3) What was Jesus like?
4) Why did Jesus suffer?
John 7:7; 15:18-25
5) Why did Jesus die?
6) Who killed Jesus?
John 18:31; 19:15,16,18
7) What happened to Jesus after His Crucifixion
8) What is Jesus doing now?
9) What will Jesus do in the future?
10) How does God want us to respond to Jesus?
11) What is God’s response to those who follow Jesus
12) Is there any other way to God
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