Some of the greatest movies of all time are based on a true story. This is what makes them great. Even if the producing stinks or the special effects are cheesy, the thought that this REALLY happened to someone captures us. Schindler’s list, Saving Private Ryan, The Diary of Anne Frank, Helen Keller, The End of the Spear. Powerful stuff – based on a true story.
I have to say, the most powerful movie I’ve ever watched was Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I know Mel can be a controversial figure, but his work on this film is exemplary. Based on a true story – the story of the crucifixion of Christ. Growing up in church, the story wasn’t a new one to me. How many times had I heard it? How many times had I read it myself? But watching the Roman brutality of a crucifixion put the whole thing in my face in a way that was like the story was new to me. I sat there in that theatre seat overcome with the images on the screen. Not just that, but the realization that Jesus went through that FOR ME. I could hardly breathe. It was like someone was standing on my chest.
I don’t know if growing up I saw the crucifixion as something far removed from me or if I just took it lightly. I mean, I knew about sin, my sin, and about his death to cover all sins and I had several times in my life when God brought me face to face with all of that.
Often I think “I’m doing OK. I don’t break the 10 commandments or anything, right?”
But I do.
Thou Shalt not Covet: I covet my sister’s vacuum cleaner or my friend’s abs or legs.
Thou Shalt not Steal: I “sample” grapes at the grocery store.
Thou shalt not have any gods besides Me: I hold my children as little idols because I put them above my relationship with God.
Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery: – sounds bad, doesn’t? But Jesus said, “whoever lusts after another woman has committed adultery in his heart”…sometimes I think, maybe he shouldn’t have made men like (fill in your movie star idol) then! UGH!
So anyway, I’m sitting there in that theatre and not only feeling the reality of the true story on the big screen, but it was as if God was yelling at me.
“Don’t you know that this is for you?
Don’t you know how great my love for you is that I cast your sins away as far as the east is from the west?
Don’t you know that I have great plans for your life – plans to prosper you and give you hope? HOPE! And freedom! Freedom from religious rules and legalism. Freedom to live in me?”
After the movie, a group of us talked about it and I remember saying that it is the type of movie every Christian should see once but I didn’t know if I could bear to see it again. It’s been many years and I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I should see it again. We all need reminders in our lives of the reality of the Truest Story.
You can read the true story of the crucifixion and resurrection in 4 places in the Bible:
- Matthew 26-28
- Mark 14-16
- Luke 22-24
- John 18-20
I encourage you to read them during Lent in preparation for Easter – about Jesus – from a book full of true stories.
Thank you, God for the sacrifice of your son for our sins. For all of us sin and fall short of your glory but you demonstrate your love for us in this – while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It isn’t anything we do – it is a gift from you. A gift we take for granted. Forgive us Father, not only of the big things in our lives that haunt us, but the little things that stand in the way of true life in you. Life, Life, Life! We lay those things at your feet and we leave them there for you to cast away from us – as far as the east is from the west. Thank you for your forgiveness, love, acceptance and grace. Help us to remember this season that Easter is about more than bunnies and eggs – it is about the gift of salvation you offer to us. Amen.