Dr. Dan Hayden •

Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ (2004) elicited responses that span the spectrum of human emotion and experience. In doing so it has set numerous box office records, caused controversy regarding alleged anti-Semitism, and encouraged multitudes who are humbled by the sacrifice made by our Savior.

The Passion of the Christ posterThe Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ is on everyone’s mind, and talking about it seems to be on everyone’s lips. The film has had record attendance and been a financial success the first week and weekend of its release, and it seems that all of the media, be it news or talk show hosts, are speaking about it continually. Mel Gibson has been interviewed by Diane Sawyer and Jay Leno, and it just seems that everyone is taken with this movie and with the subject of the passion of Christ. Magazine covers featuring Gibson or actor James Caviezel, who portrays Jesus, are just about everywhere. Of course, there has been controversy about the film, controversy that centers around anti-Semitism predominantly, but that has not been much of an issue in the end. Many Rabbis are saying that the anti-Semitic tone is really not a prominent element and that it is nothing to be concerned about. Initially, that gave it notoriety; conflict always does that. But now it has become something of a major discussion, and Christ always divides. There are those that are not interested in knowing about the death of Christ and yet they are curious to see the film. So the anti-Christian sentiment that has been in America is being challenged these days because of Mel Gibson’s boldness through the film.

Mel Gibson, of course, is a Catholic and is coming at the film from a very Catholic perspective. There are a number of very strong Catholic elements in the film. I think primarily the emphasis on Mary is striking with regard to Catholic theology. She seems to be everywhere. She is mopping up blood after the scourging. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say that. She is really in almost every scene, in the background or in a prominent place. She asks her Son if she can die with Him as she’s looking at Him on the cross. There is that identity of Mary with the death of Christ as well; not just in mourning His death but in wanting to participate in it. These are strong Catholic elements that you do not find in the Bible, and so there has been some criticism of the film on the part of the Protestant community regarding the dramatic liberties that are taken with the account. Yet I would agree, as I have seen the film, that the quote from the Pope is generally correct, “It is as it was.” Mel Gibson has done quite a credible job, apart from those additions, of giving The Passion of the Christ a realistic (though unusually emphatic view with regard to the suffering) view of the scriptural account of the death of Christ.

It really appears as though God is using this film. Churches all over the country have been urging people to see it, and they have established follow-up programs to lead people to Christ. I have been in many church settings where the question is asked of the audience “how many have seen the film” and many hands go up, and “how many have not seen it but are intending to” and many more hands go up. It is a question that is being asked everywhere, and it seems that everyone has an interest or intent to see the film. There are some that won’t because of the grisly nature of the suffering and the scourging and crucifixion, but by and large Christians and non-Christians alike are being drawn to The Passion of the Christ.

Now, there are a number of things I would like to say about The Passion of the Christ from a biblical point of view as it relates to this film. One is an amplification with regard to the suffering of Christ, and the second has to do with the accuracy of Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the story really beginning with the Gethsemane experience and the prayer of our Lord in the garden.

First of all, with regard to the crucifixion itself. Crucifixion did not begin with the Romans. Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells us that the Persians practiced crucifixion as an extreme form of punishment, and it was used for those that had committed sedition against the government of Persia and other heinous crimes, and it was an extreme form of capital punishment. Other sources tell us that the Assyrians used crucifixion; they were very brutal people, and they would impale as well as crucify. Even European groups of the ancient world – the Celts, the Germans, and even the Britons – used crucifixion as a means of public punishment for the crime of rebellion against the government, seditious intent and so forth. Alexander the Great of the Greek Empire, who ruled after the Persians, also used crucifixion. When he conquered the city of Tyre, the Phoenician city on the Mediterranean, he had 2000 of its citizens crucified along the coastline as a message to all of the other cities, states, and governments in the Middle East that resistance to his rule was futile. It was for the purpose of creating a sense of horror and fear that you did not want to rebel against his authority. So crucifixion was around for a long time.

The fact that Christ was crucified was not unusual in terms of history. It was a very extreme form of suffering, and Mel Gibson has placed a magnifying glass on the sufferings of Christ. You read the biblical account and it’s not nearly as explicit as The Passion of the Christ with regard to all of the gore and pain and the mutilation of the body. You just don’t find that in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are more inclined to give us simply the fact of the matter that Christ died for our sins. In the movie, Mel Gibson, according to his own testimony, wanted people to understand the severity of the suffering, so he sort of magnified it. He put a magnifying glass on it. For instance, in the scourging experience, scourging was generally limited to a certain amount of strokes of the whip by the Roman government. Yet in the film it goes on and on. You think it’s done and then it starts all over again. There just seems to be no end to it. They even continue to scourge Christ along the Via Dolorosa as He is carrying the cross and moving toward the place of the crucifixion. He is continually scourged which may not have been the case. That would have been unusual. The Roman government had no qualms with Christ. Pilate said so. The soldiers thought it was a big joke, and they mocked him and put the crown of thorns upon His head. They dressed Him in a purple robe and mocked Him, but there is no indication that they had any vindictive spirit toward Him that would lead to beating Him along the way. Of course, the Jews had no opportunity to do that, so there was some license taken on the part of the movie to accentuate the suffering in ways the Bible does not speak about. Even with the crucifixion, after they had nailed Christ to the cross, Gibson shows the Romans turn it over with a big thud in order to bend the nails in to hold them in place. The cross is then flipped back over. That is not spoken of in the Scriptures, and yet that was another part of the magnification in an effort to add to the sense of the suffering.

As much as Mel Gibson amplified the sufferings, I think there is an aspect of Scripture that amplifies it still further. Not with the description of the gore and the suffering, but an understanding of exactly what crucifixion is and then the spiritual dimension of the sufferings of Christ which go far beyond anything that any other person had ever experienced. In Isaiah Chapter 52, which acts as an introduction to Isaiah 53’s account of the suffering Messiah, it says that His visage was marred more than any man (52:14). Well, there had been thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of crucifixion victims. As we’ve seen, the Persians, Assyrians, Europeans, and Greeks were crucifying people before Rome had throughout its empire. We know that there were two thieves crucified with Christ. It was a common thing. A lot of other men had gone through the very thing that Christ had gone through, and yet the Scripture says that His visage was more marred than any other person. So there had to have been something more, something additional that Christ experienced.

Let me talk for a minute about an additional aspect of the actual crucifixion experience. We need to go back to the Old Testament to set the stage for this.

In Joshua 8:29, there is an account of Joshua conquering the city of Ai. Now he had already conquered Jericho and the next step as he moved inland was to take the city of Ai which was fortified. After he had conquered that city, it says in verses 28-29, “And Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day, and he hanged the King of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate and raised over it a great heap of stones that stand to this day.” So here is a practice that Joshua engaged in of taking the King, the ruler, that had resisted the authority of Joshua, and he hung him on a tree. Now, this was a humane way of doing it as the man was already dead. The Romans put live victims on their trees, their crosses, but the Jews did practice hanging a person on a tree until sundown.

It happened again in Joshua 10:26-27 where we read that there were five kings of a southern coalition that had resisted Joshua. After he had defeated them, they hid in a cave. Joshua knew their location, so he rounded them up, and it says in verses 26-27, “So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death and he hanged them on five trees and they hung on the trees until evening. And it came about at sunset that Joshua commanded and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves and put large stones over the mouth of the cave to this very day.” So here again, he hung them on trees.

Now there was a very good reason for doing this. Not only did Joshua want to kill these resisters of his authority, and in a sense the authority of God, but he also wanted to put them to public shame and humiliation. So he actually hung the bodies on trees all day long. They couldn’t be there after sundown, but they hung there as a demonstration of the curse of God upon these people. Now, this goes back to an item in the law of God in the book of Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, it says, “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree but you shall surely bury him on the same day for he who is hanged is accursed of God so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.” Now they could hang a person on a tree, and it says that if they did that as a special indication as a curse of God upon that person, they were not to leave them up after sundown because that would bring a curse upon the land. They were to take them down, but they could, for a time, put them into that position of shame and humiliation. Not only was it a position of shame and humiliation where people could come by, but they could also revile the bodies, they could hit them, they could in some other way do violence against them, they could yell at them and vent their emotions. It was a symbol also that this person was especially cursed of God. This person had rebelled against the authority of God, and therefore, it was a position of curse.

Now, whether the Persians, Assyrians, Greeks and Romans got the idea from the Jews of hanging a person on a tree we don’t know, but the idea of crucifixion included that. It was not only killing a person, putting him to death, capital punishment. We have many ways of doing that: the electric chair, lethal injection, hanging, and several others. The Jews also would stone a person death. These are all ways of putting a person to death, but this was an added idea of bringing the sense of humiliation and shame to the person. So the Jews practiced that with the corpse. The others practiced it with the living victim. There was not only the idea of death. There was the idea of shame.

Now, the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews Chapter 12, brings this out, and he says in Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” and then it talks about His death, “who for the joy that was set before Him.” The joy is obviously associated with the last thing that is said, “who is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” and that was the ultimate expectation and that was the joy or the end result. But it says two other things in verse 2, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,” that’s the physical pain of the cross experience. Then it says, “despising the shame.” You see, there is a second element and that is the shame. So it wasn’t just a matter of being killed for your crime, it was also a matter of putting you to public humiliation, of putting you into a place of shame so that there would be this response of the crowd of people that went by, and of course, the Romans always crucified their victims along busy thoroughfares for the express purpose of creating the fear in those who saw it of doing any such thing themselves. So that was the idea of crucifixion. It wasn’t just physical pain. It was also humiliation.

In The Passion of the Christ, physical pain comes out very strongly. That was the emphasis. There was the physical torture and the physical pain, but there was also the humiliation. Crucified victims were put on crosses naked and there they hung naked in front of all of the people in a condition of shame as they died a prolonged death for hours, sometimes days. People would die on the cross more from suffocation than they would from bleeding to death, so it was a long, enduring process and you were hung there in a condition of shame. And so it says of Christ that He not only endured the cross, He despised the shame. So there were those two elements.

Another thing that we need to understand is that when Christ died on the cross, He died in our place. It was a substitutionary sacrifice. Of course, there are statements in the film that try to help us understand that it was for our sin and so forth, but that was not emphasized. Even though certain lines were subtitled in the film, you couldn’t understand those that weren’t because it was all in Aramaic. But in the script there were certain things and statements that showed that Mel Gibson understood that Christ was dying for our sins. I don’t think that the majority of unbelieving people will come out of the film knowing that it was because of their sin that Christ died, which is why follow-up is so important with regard to the film. Paul says in Galatians 3:13, which is his explanation of the death of Christ for us, “For as many as are under the works of the law are under a curse for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide in all things written in the book of the law to perform them” (verse 10). Now down to verse 13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law having become a curse for us for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” That is a quote from that Deuteronomy passage, chapter 21:22-23. That is what is written, that cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree. Now, you see that is what was due to us and when Christ died on the cross, He redeemed us. That means He took our place and made it possible for us to go free because He took the punishment in our place. But it wasn’t just the pain. That’s the emphasis of the film and something I want to go beyond and expand your understanding. It wasn’t just the pain. It was the shame that was another aspect, and Christ took our shame. You and I deserve to be punished for our sins, and the Bible says that those who do not know Christ as their Savior will be punished forever for their sins and there will be physical pain associated with that; the fires of hell, the lake of fire and so forth. But there is another aspect which is the utter shame that comes from rebellion against the authority of God. Every time I exercise my independent will of God, I say “I will, I’ll do this, I’ll do that,” independent of His will, I am guilty of sedition against the government of God. I am guilty of rebellion against the authority of God, and so I deserve to be put to public shame. So as you watch the crucifixion and you see the pain and suffering, that’s just one aspect. The public shame is another. So I need to be doubly grateful that Christ not only took my suffering in terms of physical pain, but he also took my shame upon Himself. That adds another dimension.

That’s why the Jews were not satisfied when Pilate said he did not find in any fault in this man and that He was not guilty of sedition against the government of Rome. So the Jews said they had a law and by this law the man should die because He claimed to be God. You see, the ultimate sin against the government of God is to claim to be God. That’s why they wanted Him killed, but they didn’t want Him just killed. Pilate said to take Him and do to Him according to your law. Now, with their law they could put Him to death by stoning Him. They did this to Stephen in Acts 7, so they did have the privilege under Roman government to enact their capital punishment which was stoning. But they wanted more than stoning, and they understood the principle of cross-execution; that it wasn’t just putting to death but also putting to public humiliation. They didn’t want Him crucified just because of the extreme torture and the pain of that. They wanted Him crucified because it would fulfill the intention of Deuteronomy 21. He would be hung on a tree just like the king of Ai and the five kings of the southern coalition were in Joshua’s day. That would be the appropriate response to what, in their minds, Jesus had done. You see, that’s why they clamored for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Let me say one other thing with regard to the reason for the death of Christ. This will demonstrate the insight of Mel Gibson to start the movie in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn’t start it with the trials and the crucifixion itself. He started it in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now, if you go back into the gospel record, one of things you discover is that they were wanting to kill Christ much sooner than they actually did. In fact, over and over you discover that the religious leaders were so intense in their hatred of Christ that they made many attempts to kill Him, to stone Him, on those occasions. In Luke 4, Luke tells us that when Jesus first preached in his hometown, the City of Nazareth, and He said that the prophecy of Isaiah was being fulfilled in what He was doing, they got so mad at Him that they wanted to lay hands on Jesus, to drag Him out of the city and throw Him off the cliff that was just outside of the City. It goes on to say that they couldn’t do it. They had intention to do it, but Jesus simply walked through their midst and walked away. On other occasions, in the Gospel of John, he mentions over and over their attempts to actually kill Christ. At the end of John 8 when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” and claimed to be the Jehovah God of Exodus 3, they got so mad they actually picked up stones to stone Him, but again He walked away. At the end of John Chapter 10 of the good shepherd story, again they are so mad that they wanted to seize Him and made every attempt to go out and grab Him, but they couldn’t do it. You see, there was a prohibition by God with regard to the dirty, soiled hands of the religious elite to lay hands on Jesus. They couldn’t do it. They couldn’t put their dirty hands on Jesus, because He was the holy Son of God. He was the perfect one, the one without sin according to Scripture. So they were never allowed to touch Christ. Now the only occasion in which they would be allowed to touch Christ is when He became a substitute for the actual guilty parties. At that point, He is treated as though He is guilty because He is in the place of another who is guilty.

Now, when did God the Father allow people, the authorities, to actually lay hands of Jesus? Never in all of His public ministry were they allowed to do that until the Garden of Gethsemane. You see, when Jesus was in the garden, He prayed intense prayers. What was happening in the Garden of Gethsemane? Well, the question is often asked when the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus, and very often the idea is when He was on the cross or perhaps at the moment He prayed, “My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” and at that point the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus. Well, I would suggest to you that the sins of the world, your sin and my sin, were placed on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, because that is when the authorities were able to seize Him and actually treat Him as an evil person. You see, “The Passion” didn’t begin when he was scourged or when He was hung on the cross. “The Passion” began when they were able to rough Him up, as it were, which they began to do right away. They grabbed Him and, in an ancient sense, handcuffed Him. They herded Him off to the trial, first with Annas and then with Caiaphas and then with the Sanhedrin. Of course, there was only one trial in the movie before Caiaphas, but there are actually three in the Scriptures, one before Annas, who was Caiaphas’ father-in-law and the official high priest, though not the ruling high priest, and then before Caiaphas in the night, a very illegal trial, and then a quickly called meeting of the Sanhedrin to legitimize or attempt to legitimize what they had done in the morning. So there were actually three trials. Christ was taken and treated badly. They not only verbally abused Him. On one occasion, one of the officers of the guard actually struck Him in the face because of what he felt to be a dishonorable comment with regard to the high priest, and Jesus asked, “What wrong have I done?” Yet Jesus was accepting this. Why? Because He was already our substitute at that point. You see, in the garden when He was praying in the movie there was an indication that He was praying to the Father not to let bad people do bad things to Him as though He were somewhat intimidated by the mistreatment that was coming by the physical suffering He was anticipating. But I don’t believe that was the case. Martyrs for the faith have died rejoicing in their martyrdom. Foxe tells us in his Book of Martyrs that Christians have gone to the stake burning to death while singing hymns. People have been courageous in going to their death, even excruciating death, even tortured death, because of their love for Christ. Men and women have endured awful things. I think of Mel Gibson himself in the portrayal of Braveheart and the incredible tortures that were inflicted on the people and then his standing for what he felt to be the truth in that great war where they just ran into the war with great courage.

You see, Christ is no less than His believers who die a martyr’s death with joy. I don’t think Christ was afraid of the physical aspect. He didn’t enjoy it, but I don’t think He was afraid of it. There was something far worse. You see in Isaiah that His visage was marred more than any man. Something happened to Jesus that had not happened to the hundreds of thousands of crucified victims over the centuries. There in the Garden of Gethsemane as sin was placed upon Jesus, the pressure was so great that it drove the blood through His pores. There is some debate as to whether He actually bled in the garden. The text seems to indicate that He did or perhaps it was sweat drops coming off of Him as though He were bleeding. It seems that He actually bled and that His garments were blood-soaked before He was ever taken to the trial and crucifixion. That is where the suffering began, and the suffering was not a physical torture. The suffering was the spiritual pain, the emotional pain, and the spiritual intensity of the sins of the world being placed upon Him. Now, I think of my sins and I think of all that being placed on Jesus, and I see that would be awesome for someone else to take all that I’ve done and take the punishment that is due for that. Then you start thinking of the people around you, your close associates, and add that to the mix and you get a little more overwhelmed. Then you start adding the sins of the people in the greater context of your community and your town and then your state and then the entire United States. Then you add the whole North American continent and then all of the continents of the world, and you’ve just done one generation. Then you take all of the sins of all of the generations in world history and place all of that on Jesus, and the effect would have been intense and incredible. At that point, Jesus is standing in the point of every condemned sinner and that’s why they were allowed to mistreat him, because that’s what we deserve. Everything He went through was maltreatment. It was injustice because we all know that Jesus wasn’t guilty of any of that, but when you realize He was in our place, everything He accepted was justice. It was right. It’s what we would have deserved if it had been us. Now, the sins of the world are upon Him at that point in the Garden of Gethsemane. So there is not only the physical suffering and the public humiliation, there is the spiritual suffering of the sins of the world being upon Him.

So now Jesus goes to the trials and they lead Him to Pilate and He goes through the trial of Pilate and then over to Herod and then back to Pilate. The movie had that correct. The visit to Herod was the part that Luke gives us (23:8-12). He’s the only Gospel writer that tells us that. There wasn’t just one trial with Pilate; there were two. Finally Pilate gets Jesus back and has to dispose of the situation. So He gives in because it’s a holiday season and he doesn’t want to create a stir and have the Jews rebel against him. That would have been bad news in the Roman Empire and Caesar would have been angry with Pilate. So Pilate gives in for political reasons and commits Jesus to crucifixion. Before crucifixion there is the scourging, and Pilate had hoped that just the scourging would appease them. So he has Jesus whipped. History tells us that it was so brutal that men would often die from the scourging and never make it to the cross. The lashes would often lacerate the flesh and even the bowels would begin to hang out. That’s gruesome to talk about, but that’s how brutal the scourging was. So that’s what is emphasized in the movie.

Then Jesus went to the cross. But in the film you don’t ever get a sense of the greater suffering that would have been coming upon Christ, and that’s the spiritual suffering. In Psalm 22, we are given an insight into the crucifixion experience. The Psalm begins, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me.” Obviously, those are the very words that Jesus spoke on the cross, so that Psalm must have been on His mind. If you read the Psalm, it is a prayer, a communion if you will, not a pleasant communion, but one of great awesomeness on the part of the Messiah who was going to be crucified. “They pierced my hands and my feet,” it says in the Psalm later on in verse 16. So here is this prayer and the whole prayer is the awesome experience of being separated from the Father. Of course, that’s how the Psalm begins, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” It goes on expression after expression saying “I’m alone, where are you, why won’t you help me?” There is this incredible sense of distance of the Son from the Father, and that appears to be the greater suffering. It was the suffering that He expressed when He was on the cross. He said the very thing Psalm 22 says. The first words out of His mouth on the cross after being there for a period of time. At that point, when all of that came to a head and He was actually receiving the ultimate punishment for sin, God pulled the shade down. It says it went dark for three hours. You couldn’t see. I think it was during that period of time that his visage was so marred more than any man. The contortions of his face with the extreme pressure; not of the physical suffering, not even of the humiliation, but of the spiritual pressure upon Him as He took sin upon His holy frame. You know, God is holy. He can’t stand sin, and that is why He is going to punish sin. That’s why there is eternal damnation for those that don’t come to Christ and are not forgiven of their sins. God can’t stand sin. I don’t think we have any idea or any reference to understand even the beginnings of that concept of Christ having the sins placed upon Himself in those dark hours. His face went into contortions, His body already wracked with pain, and His mind and emotions with humiliation. The spiritual sense of alienation from the Father is the sense of Psalm 22. Extreme alienation from the Father was the greater suffering.

You see, when Mel Gibson decided to put a magnifying glass on the suffering of Christ, he only went part way. You get the sense of the physical suffering. You get a little bit of the sense of the humiliation, although even that is minimized, but you really don’t get a sense of the greater suffering which is the spiritual suffering from the alienation from the Father. Though the film has some inaccuracies and a deliberate Catholic emphasis that is not so appreciated by those us of who are Protestants, I believe that Mel Gibson has really done a good job in presenting the film the way he has. Christ did suffer, and there is that window into His suffering, that magnifying glass on His suffering. But we who understand the Scriptures need to take it even further. That magnifying glass needs to magnify it even further to the extreme humiliation that Christ is experiencing, but then the substitutionary nature of the sacrifice where He is taking our alienation from the Father and that spiritual alienation is the most incredible of all. So when you think about it, people who do not know Christ as their Savior and go into an eternal loss will not only have physical pain which is the fires of Hell according to Scripture, but they will have humiliation in the government of God from the angelic world and all of creation. There is a humiliation that will be incredible, but the greater pain of eternal loss will be alienation from God. I’m convinced of that. It was the greater agony of Jesus on the cross.

Is the film good? Well, I think it is in the sense that it is raising a public awareness of Jesus that is absolutely wonderful in our day. It is causing people to have to think about Jesus and that is good. I think Mel Gibson is exactly right that it began in the Garden of Gethsemane, not with a prayer to be delivered in the physical suffering and from the bad things they were going to do to Him, but the greater suffering of alienation from the Father. That’s where it all began. That’s where the sins of the world were placed on Jesus, and everything else was not a miscarriage of justice. It was a miscarriage of justice as far as Jesus was concerned in His actual person as the holy Son of God, but it was actual justice that was due to you and me and Jesus was taking our place. If you can view that as you see the film or reflect upon it, you begin to get an overwhelming sense of what Jesus did for you. That should create real sense of humility and repentance and of being drawn to Christ with great appreciation.

I think the film is a good thing due to the fact that it is being followed-up by those who truly love Christ. As I’ve heard the various interviews with Mel Gibson and some of the stories that have come out in the magazines, I have to believe that Mel Gibson knows Christ as his Savior. He talks about his own sin. In fact, there is one point in the film where he appears. When the nail is driven through the hand of Jesus, that hand holding the nail is Mel Gibson’s hand. That is a gesture on his part to say it was “my” sin that put that nail through his hand. I think he understands that, so I applaud Gibson for his courage, and I applaud him for understanding what the death of Christ was really about. It was the atonement for our sin, and even though there are some inaccuracies and a Catholicism aspect to it, I truly believe God is going to use the film. But we need to understand that the magnifying glass needs to be more intense. It needs to go beyond the suffering of Christ to the humiliation of Christ and into the alienation of Christ from the Father. That was the greater suffering. Understanding that, you truly understand The Passion of the Christ. ■