The main problem with Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ is simply that it has no “passion.” It doesn’t explain why Jesus died, or its own assumption that he “had to” die, nor does it explore the factors that led him to the ignominious gibbet.
In this failure, the film deletes any presentation of Jesus’ own passion:
his passion that the hungry be filled, the poor sheltered, orphans and widows cared for, the Torah interpreted intensely but “internally” and mercifully as well;
his passion for the Kingdom of God’s arrival here and now, his passion for offering a means of living centered in Spirit rather than in culture, his passion for social justice, his condemnation of oppressive domination systems;
his role as a transformative sage, a charismatic mediator, a social prophet, a renewal movement founder, and his function as a Jewish mystic in the stream of Jewish mysticism…
…and everything else he was – or at least everything that the Christian Testament says he was – all great themes that the film’s narrow focus sadly ignores.
Gibson’s brief glimpses from Jesus’ pre-Passion life (the last supper, the sermon on the mount) only serve to confuse the many issues necessarily raised by the film’s silence on his pre-crucifixion career.
In fact, Gibson’s tale, which mainly concerns Jesus’ arrest and execution, distorts and falsifies the whole Christian “sense” of his life.
Unfortunately for mainstream Christians and general audiences alike, its strongest appeal is only to Christian fundamentalists who don’t follow Christianity so much as they do (sometimes unconsciously) “Crossianity;” and who rather insanely think that Jesus “came”… “to earth”… “to die.” Surely this film is for them, and them only. The truly great “Life of Christ” has yet to be filmed, and Gibson’s gore fest is not even in the running.