Mel Gibson’s Passion movie

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Backstory: Jesus and the Devil


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 The Devil

At a key moment in the narrative of Jesus' death, Jesus gave a piece of bread to the man he said would betray him. At that point, we are told, "As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him" (John 13:27). What was the role of evil in the events surrounding Jesus' suffering and death?

The Passion movie has raised a lot of controversy about who was really responsible for Jesus' death. Was it a Jewish plot? Was it a Roman show of power? Or is the blame to be laid squarely at the feet of Judas?

All the usual suspects.

Jesus himself seemed pretty adamant that it was never people who were the enemy, but evil itself. His teaching about turning the other cheek was directed at the problem of combating oppression without becoming an oppressor in your turn. His teaching has been hailed as the ultimate in human morality.

Unfortunately, it also contained the seeds of Jesus' own demise. Not because it was a flawed strategy, but because refusing to use even a little bit of evil, in order to resist evil, can only result in one outcome.

Ultimately responding angrily to anger can only create anger, and a war on war can only generate war. The cycle of destruction just rolls on, until someone takes the destruction passed on to them, and resolutely insists: "It stops here."

But if anyone ever did that – stepped up to the merry-go-round of damage that everyone is riding and pushed the other way, then all the force of evil that has been building through the centuries would come to bear on that person. That's probably why the philosopher Plato argued that if there was ever a perfect human being, he would inevitably be killed.

It doesn't really matter whether you see Satan as personally masterminding Jesus' demise, or acknowledge that, for the relentless progression of harm to be halted, someone would have to stand directly in its path. When it comes to grand plans to overcome evil, it seems, the Devil is in the detail.

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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,

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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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