“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I love the movie, “The Passion of Christ.” I think it does an incredible job of portraying the suffering Christ endured. It can be difficult to watch, but it has a way of speaking to me every time I watch it.
One time my pastor showed a clip of the movie during his message on Resurrection Sunday. And there was something interesting that stood out to me that day. It was during the scene where Jesus was beaten nearly to death with rods and whips. It’s a very gruesome scene and it is not easy to watch. But as I watched I noticed how the movie showed Jesus trying His best to stay standing while He was being beaten. Then finally when He was overcome by the pain He collapsed to the ground. The soldiers at that point thought they had given Him all a man could possibly take so they stopped the beating.
Then we see Jesus looking over at His mother, who was watching with the crowd with tears running down her face. And next, we see His hands shaking violently as He fights to regain enough strength to stand back to His feet. It was as if He was inviting the beating to continue, which it did, only worse after that. Now we don’t know if Jesus actually did stand back up during that beating. But I think the movie did a good job of making an important point in that small moment.
Because if that act of standing back up had been anyone else but Jesus, we would have interpreted it as an act of prideful defiance. As if the hero in the story was saying to his enemy, “I’ll show you how tough I am.” But with Jesus, we know He was not a prideful rebel and He was not trying to prove His toughness.
No, when the movie shows Him looking at His mother and then some strength comes back to Him. I believe what we see there is Him being reminded His reason why. If it had been for no more than just for one person He was willing to pay the price. His love for mankind was His reason why and that look at His mother was all the reminder He needed.
Then we could wonder, why was it necessary for Him to stand up and take a more severe beating than what He had already taken? Again, there is no proof that it actually did happen that way. But I’m glad the movie showed it that way. Because what I see is His willingness and commitment to pay the full price for our complete redemption. He knew the price He had to pay. He knew He had to pour out every drop of blood, every ounce of strength, all the way until He gave His last breath.
My point is this. Jesus was not a victim of His circumstances. He chose to lay down His life and as the movie showed in that scene. He chose to pay the full price. His suffering was so great, we have no idea what that was like for Him. But I believe Jesus would never want us to look at His pain and suffering and have pity on Him. He is to be loved, admired and praised for what He did. But never pitied.
So there are two things I want us to remember this weekend as we celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
1) Jesus paid it all. He gave everything on the cross for us. There is nothing we can ever do to take away or add to the price He paid to bring us into His family. We didn’t deserve it. But it was done out of His great love for us. That’s why He is the way, the only way for our salvation. And our salvation is a gift that can never be repaid. The only thing we can do is completely surrender ourselves to Him so that hopefully our lives can be used by Him to bring others into the family.
2) Jesus is our example. We are to follow the Lord’s example in every possible way we can. From living as sinless as we can live. To hearing and obeying the Lord’s leading in our lives. To using our God-given faith to meet the challenges we face. And to the laying down our own lives for the good of someone else.
We are not called to be crucified for the sins of the world. But we are called to lay down our lives in the way we deal with each other. We are called to put others needs above our own. We are called to demonstrate a love that is so great that we are willing to suffer the pain and anguish it takes sometimes for someone we love to be pulled out of the pit they have found themselves in.
The crucifixion of Christ is not a sign of weakness that should be pitied. It is a sign of strength. A strength that we could all aspire to if we allow the love of God to have its way in our hearts.