Friday, April 22, 2011

Very Good Friday Indeed

Every year during Lent, I revisit the LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST in either movie or book form. I know some of you have strong feelings about this book/movie.  I have no wish to offend anyone but I hope that on this Good Friday you will let me share with you why I love it so much.

When I saw the film, it was truly a revelation for me. When the movie first came out in 1988, many people told me that it was the work of the devil. I heard crazy things like "Jesus has sex with Mary Magdalene on the cross!" What?!!! I was 13 years old and actually SCARED to see the movie. Then, in college, my pastor had a screening at the chapel. It became clear to me that none of the people who warned me about the film had actually SEEN it.

The film (and the book) reveals the human side of Jesus. If any god were omnipotent and "died" for us, it wouldn't seem to be *that* big of a deal. I mean, how much of a sacrifice is it if the god in question feels no pain and dying is no big thing. But what if the deity can feel things like rage and fear and pain? Because He is part human? That's a whole different story. The film also brings out the fact that Judas may be the most misunderstand individual in the Bible. If he had not followed through with his mission, where would we all be? In the movie, Judas is Jesus' conscience. He makes sure that Jesus fufills his duty on earth. Remember that Jesus was still struggling with his holy mission when he was in the garden of Gethsemane.  Matthew 26:39 tells us "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt]." Judas helped Jesus to fulfill his holy mission and because he loves Jesus, that duty is especially painful. This movie/book imagines the "last" temptation as a chance for Jesus to live a normal life. The devil tries to convince Him that He can get off the cross instead of a being a sacrifice for humankind. And He is tempted to do so. After all, He is human as well as divine. But Judas helps Him to see that He must complete His journey to the cross to save all of us. And that is a very powerful thing. It's a real sacrifice. But when Jesus says "it is accomplished," our relationship with God takes on a whole new meaning. The slate is wiped clean and we are blessed with grace. The ultimate sacrifice has been made.  Hallelujah!

I hope that whatever your faith and whatever your beliefs that you will all have a very blessed Easter!

No comments: