The betrayal in Gethsemane stands once for all time, the treachery of humanity against a God that devised us. Even of a sense that we may love God, we resist God and even repel God at times. Judas Iscariot lives in each of us; that fearful, greedy, self-obliging spirit.
The Passion of the Christ (2004) was released on February 25, 2004. I know because I was there. It was a poignant time in my life when God had my fullest attention and obedience. I was both broken and on fire.
It was a Wednesday. The preceding Monday (the 23rd) had seen me rocked to within an inch of my life – five months to the day of my very first cataclysmic rock bottom experience – and this event five months later was worse than anything else I’d experienced. I was at work in an industrial port location, a leader around many wild men, beside myself in a panic attack that lasted an hour or more, and on a helpline desperate for aid. Nothing could assuage the grief I experienced that day. There had been some conflict, and I had never felt more alone and vulnerable, ever. I took the opportunity to see the operations manager who was an empathic friend, and he ordered me to go home; a non-Christian, he even offered to pray for me to my God! The drive home was twenty minutes of mental Armageddon. I devised a plan, if you know what I mean. It was a silly plan that would never have worked, but I was frantic for escape. When I arrived home, I paced through the place in that living hell, just not able to settle, tormented within. That place represented death, and death threatened to envelope me.
I was in what felt like Gethsemane, though without the burden of all eternity’s humanity crushing me.
This experience was the perfect taster for the days soon to come – to tearfully witness The Passion seven times over a fourteen-day timeframe. I sobbed throughout each showing, unashamed for what others thought. It really didn’t bother me.
Jesus meant so much.
He suffered, and was scourged and mocked, and He bled, and His body was torn apart, and He DIED, for me!
They brutalised Him.
Only in the unconscionable is there the witness of a compassion that bleeds love.
What God showed me about Jesus’ passion has stayed with me. It was only as I had been rejected that I came to understand how beautiful it was that Jesus was rejected. It was only from that situation – utterly alone but for five humans (my parents and my daughters) who were inextricably invested in me – that I came to understand how His love equalled the cross. A sacrifice I too could live. Feeling alone, betrayed, abandoned helped me relate with a Saviour who Himself had died alone, betrayed, abandoned.
Jesus’ passion broke Him, and in this the Father was well pleased, for God’s compassion is resplendent for all eternity in the passion of the Christ.