The Plot of All Time - By Pastor Thomas Engel
During this time of Holy Week, we are seeing movies based on Jesus’ life coming out. Out of curiosity, I did a search to see how many movies that are based on Bible stories. Over eighty pages came up with titles and short descriptions.
Growing up, I knew Easter was coming because it was the time the epic movie, The Ten Commandments, was on television. Back then, as a kid, I was amazed at the parting of the Red Sea.
It was more than we could ever imagine for a movie made in 1956, but in comparison with today’s tech stuff used in movie making, it’s not so dramatic. Watching the movie now, the parting of the Red Sea looks like it was filmed in a bathtub.
In 1977, the movie, Jesus of Nazareth, came out that traced Jesus’ life from his conception to his resurrection. It was another epic movie with six hours of film.
As this movie had more advanced movie-making tech stuff, I thought that it did a good job showing the events of Jesus’ life. That movie really brought out the culture of the time, so we could feel like we were right there.
In the sitcom show of the seventies, All in the Family, here’s Archie Bunker’s reaction to the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, “Jesus Christ, I dig and I dug Him a long time before you ... turned Him into a superstar.”
Well, Archie might have a point, but I did like a lot of the music, and that musical brought Jesus to a generation that was falling away from church.
In 2004, The Passion of the Christ came out. If you have not seen it, I’m not sure I would recommend it.
My apprehension in recommending it is not because it’s a poor movie in anyway. If you are planning on see it, I would have to give a forewarning that it is graphic.
With today’s more advanced movie-making tech stuff, the movie depicts the physical suffering that Jesus went through quite well.
Maybe, some might say it went too far making us see all that Jesus went through on the night he was betrayed and that Friday of his death on the cross.
When I watched the movie, I felt everyone of the whips that struck Jesus. I had to turn away my head at times when I saw the horrific torture that Jesus was going through on the big screen.
As I watched the movie, Jesus’ suffering was beyond anything I had ever thought of.
I can see the viewpoint that the violence too away from the message.
When we sing, “Where you there when they crucified my Lord,” we can try to imagine what was it like to have been there.
From Scripture, we do read how intense Jesus’ suffering was. It says that Jesus’ bones were out of joint and that his face was so badly beaten that it was beyond any recognition.
I’ve read these accounts that tell of the extreme of Jesus’ suffering and death, but it’s not until I saw them that it really came to me what Jesus went through.
It was close to going back in a time machine to that first Holy Week.
So, am I saying to watch the 2004 movie, The Passion of Christ?
No, not necessarily.
We don’t need to binge watch movies.
But, on this day, we do begin a week of some deep thinking on what Jesus has done for us by his suffering and death on the cross.
If you are thinking of seeing The Passion of Christ again as an Easter tradition or for the first time, it does make an an effect.
Whatever you do this week to think on Jesus’ Passion, it should have an affect you.
Today is called Palm Sunday and Sunday of the Passion. If you noticed, we started with the events of Palm Sunday and we move to Friday with Jesus on the cross.
It was such a contrast of days with Jesus hailed as a king on one day, and, then, in a short few days, he was mocked as a criminal.
Why does the church call Jesus’ suffering and death his Passion?
In the dictionary, the first definition of “passion” is “strong and barely controllable emotion.”
What caught my attention is “barely controllable emotion.”
By the church using the word, “Passion,” for this day, it seems like that we are to be thinking so deep of what Jesus has done for us that it should affect us to have “barely controllable emotion.”
I have to say watching The Passion of Christ did that. I told you it did affect me, for I was an emotional wreck after watching it.
To be sure, we don’t have to work ourselves up into a high emotional state this week.
But, we should in our ways think on what Jesus has done for us.
Our thinking on Jesus’ passion should have an effect on us.
Not to give bullet points of how to think on Jesus and his Passion, but we can read Scripture, read devotions, sing hymns, attend this week’s services, make for a good confession by thoroughly examining ourselves in the light of God’s Law, make a point of doing service to others, and spend some extra time in mediation and prayer.
You choose what you think is best for you to do to think on Jesus’ Passion this week, but do something.
In whatever you do, how about I tell you of the desired result of what you do this week should have on you?
Let’s go back and finish that quote by Archie Bunker, “Let me tell you something. Christ don’t want you turning onto to him. He wants you comin’ to him on your knees.”
Whatever you do this week as you think on Jesus’ Passion, you know you have done it “right’ if it has brought you to your knees in praise, adoration, and thankfulness before Jesus, your Lord and Savior.
Many people in the world know about Jesus and the events of his life, but very few people fall on their knees before him.
Maybe you don’t think that Archie Bunker from a 70’s sitcom is the expert that we should to go to about faith, and I’m not sure where the writer of the show got his information from.
Again, I have to admit Archie might have a point, and maybe the point was from something like we’ve heard in our Old Testament Reading this morning.
“And he will say, Where are their gods, the rock in which they put their faith? Who took the fat of their offerings, and the wine of their drink offering? Let them now come to your help, let them be your salvation.”
A lot is happening in the world today, but a lot has always been happening in the world. A lot of conflict that leads to a lot of chaos that leads to a lot of destruction.
I don’t have to say much more, for I think we all get the picture about the state of our world.
Sadly, that picture is too easily seen these days.
Why is it like this?
The reason can be summed up in a short phrase.
A world not turning to God.
When will we ever learn that as humans we don’t have anything to make things better?
When we will we ever learn that we are sinners living in a sinful world?
When we will ever learn that the answer is to turn to God in repentance?
When we even see how the story of the life of Jesus is for us?
The story of our salvation in Christ is how we live. It’s how we die. It’s how we live forever.
Jesus’ life has enough to keep our interest. Even as non-believer, a person has to say that the story has a plot of all time.
The Passion is a story of trickery, deception, lies, conflict, conspiracy, heartache, shame, guilt, violence, sorrow, suffering, death, and victory.
Throughout history, Jesus and his life has caught the attention of the world, but after hearing it, most people do not fall on their knees before Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
So, for this week, you could binge watch the movies based on Jesus’ life.
It might work, for some of those movies are very good depicting Jesus’ life and why he came to the world from his humble birth and his life of teaching and miracles to his death and resurrection.
Do what you think you need to do to think on Jesus’ Passion, but know the result is to bring you to your knees before your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
After two years of taking communion in the pew, on this coming Easter Day, we will be coming back to the altar to take communion.
We will be going on our knees again before our Lord and Savior to take in us his body and blood.
Yes, for the last two years, we have been figuratively kneeling before our Lord, but we will now go literally kneeling before our Lord.
As we do some thinking this week of Jesus’ Passion that will move us to kneel before our Lord and Savior, imagine if a whole world kneeled before an altar on Easter morning taking in them Jesus’ body and blood.
I wonder what affect it would have?
I wonder what the result would be if every person turned to God for all things?
I’m not sure what we can do about the rest of the world, but for us, we can be doing some deep thinking in whatever way this week on the plot of all of times that brings us our salvation.
Such a story it is that it’s gotta have an effect, so much of an effect that is takes us to our knees before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Next Sunday, here on Easter morning, on our knees, we will find peace, joy, comfort, and new life as we are looking up at our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It’s all so worth deeply thinking about it.