Mel Gibson’s Passion movie

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Backstory: the humanity of Jesus

 Jesus with his mother Mary

The four 'biographies' of Jesus in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) show Jesus as fully a human being, but raise the question: was he something more? John's Gospel especially shows Jesus talking about himself as 'the Son of God'.

So how much did Jesus know – if he was God? Did he know everything that would happen in the future? Had he already seen every episode of "Happy Days"? Would he really have been able to fashion furniture that was ahead of its time? Video cabinets? Welsh Dressers? If he could see the future, could he really be human?

So how human was he – if he was human? Did he tease his mum? Or get exasperated with her advice? Did he make her laugh with impressions of his dad? Or the Fonz?

If Jesus wasn't God – and, to be honest, he seemed to be dropping pretty broad hints that he was – then he was a lunatic. That's the trouble with claiming divine status. It's either true, or you're insane.

But if Jesus wasn't a human being, it's all just another tale of the gods visiting mortals for a short package holiday. We've had plenty of those, and lovely stories they are too, but not really ones that make much difference to our daily lives.

Christians could probably do with thinking a little more about the (troubling) humanity of Jesus, but if that was at the expense of his divinity, even that would be a relatively fruitless exercise. It's a difficult balance to maintain. How could he be both God and human?

And yet that is what the early Christians said: Jesus, "being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness..." (St Paul, writing in Philippians 2:6-7).

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About this module

Find out the back story and what happens next in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie. What impact did it have on you?

‘The Passion’, for all its intensity, marks only a few hours in the life Jesus. Each of the flashbacks in the movie are windows onto some of the context, that made the execution of one man an event which continues to shape history.

This module was written by Mark Stafford.

Categories: Creativity, Reviews, Sound & vision,


Module contents

arrow The Passion of the Christ

arrow Backstory: caught in adultery

arrow Backstory: the story of Veronica

arrow Backstory: Herod wants a miracle

arrow Backstory: the last supper

arrow Backstory: the humanity of Jesus

arrow Backstory: Jesus and the Devil

arrow What happened next

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