The Pain and the Passion of Christ

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At one point, Gibson instructed the two actors inflicting the beating to hurl their lashes overhand as if throwing a baseball. Caviezel took a blow to his back after one of the actors aimed poorly. I turned to him, a couple of expletives came out of my mouth. Moments later, Caviezel was struck again, the lash slicing the gash in his back.

Likewise, shooting the dialogue in Aramaic, the language of Christ, and Latin lends a visceral effect that heightens the sense that viewers are eavesdropping on the Crucifixion rather than watching a cinematic restaging, Caviezel said. Not anti-Semitic? My sins, your sins, all of our sins put him up on that cross. Softly chanting female voices float on the soundtrack, accompanied by electronic shrieks and thuds.

At first, the movie looks like a graveyard horror flick, and then, as Jewish temple guards show up bearing torches, like a faintly tedious art film. Then the beatings begin: Jesus is punched and slapped, struck with chains, trussed, and dangled over a wall. In the middle of the night, a hasty trial gets under way before Caiaphas Mattia Sbragia and other Jewish priests.

Caiaphas, a cynical, devious, petty dictator, interrogates Jesus, and then turns him over to the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate Hristo Naumov Shopov , who tries again and again to spare Jesus from the crucifixion that the priests demand. And Pilate is not the bloody governor of history even Tiberius paused at his crimes against the Jews but a civilized and humane leader tormented by the burdens of power—he holds a soulful discussion with his wife on the nature of truth. Gibson and his screenwriter, Benedict Fitzgerald, selected and enhanced incidents from the four Gospels and collated them into a single, surpassingly violent narrative—the scourging, for instance, which is mentioned only in a few phrases in Matthew, Mark, and John, is drawn out to the point of excruciation and beyond.

History is also treated selectively. But, as Gibson knows, history rescued the pagans from eternal blame—eventually, they came to their senses and saw the light. The Emperor Constantine converted in the early fourth century, and Christianized the empire, and the medieval period saw the rise of the Roman Catholic Church. I realize that the mere mention of historical research could exacerbate the awkward breach between medieval and modern minds, between literalist belief and the weighing of empirical evidence.

Gibson can brush aside the work of scholars and historians because he has a powerful weapon at hand—the cinema—with which he can create something greater than argument; he can create faith. And this is what St. Luke says : "The Son of man indeed goeth, according to that which is determined"; and Luke : "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses , and in the prophets , and in the psalms concerning Me: for it is thus written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead.

This argument is based on the necessity of compulsion on God's part. Reply to Objection 2. This argument rests on the necessity of compulsion on the part of the man Christ. Reply to Objection 3. That man should be delivered by Christ's Passion was in keeping with both His mercy and His justice. With His justice , because by His Passion Christ made satisfaction for the sin of the human race ; and so man was set free by Christ's justice : and with His mercy, for since man of himself could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature , as was said above III , God gave him His Son to satisfy for him, according to Romans : "Being justified freely by His grace , through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus , whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood.

Hence it is said Ephesians : " God , who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins , hath quickened us together in Christ. The sin of the angels was irreparable; not so the sin of the first man I Article 2. Whether there was any other possible way of human deliverance besides the Passion of Christ? It would seem that there was no other possible way of human deliverance besides Christ's Passion. For our Lord says John : " Amen , amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground dieth, itself remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Augustine Tract.

Experiencing the Passion of Christ: God's Purpose Behind Christ's Pain by John F. MacArthur Jr.

Further, our Lord addresses the Father Matthew : "My Father, if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, Thy will be done. Therefore Christ's Passion could not pass away; hence Hilary says Comm. Further, God's justice required that Christ should satisfy by the Passion in order that man might be delivered from sin. But Christ cannot let His justice pass; for it is written 2 Timothy : "If we believe not, He continueth faithful, He cannot deny Himself.

It seems impossible, then, for man to be delivered otherwise than by Christ's Passion. Further, there can be no falsehood underlying faith. But the Fathers of old believed that Christ would suffer. Consequently, it seems that it had to be that Christ should suffer. On the contrary, Augustine says De Trin.

Therefore, speaking simply and absolutely, it was possible for God to deliver mankind otherwise than by the Passion of Christ , because "no word shall be impossible with God " Luke Yet it was impossible if some supposition be made. For since it is impossible for God's foreknowledge to be deceived and His will or ordinance to be frustrated, then, supposing God's foreknowledge and ordinance regarding Christ's Passion , it was not possible at the same time for Christ not to suffer, and for mankind to be delivered otherwise than by Christ's Passion.

And the same holds good of all things foreknown and preordained by God , as was laid down in I Reply to Objection 1. Our Lord is speaking there presupposing God's foreknowledge and predetermination, according to which it was resolved that the fruit of man's salvation should not follow unless Christ suffered.

In the same way we must understand what is here objected to in the second instance: "If this chalice may not pass away but I must drink of it"—that is to say, because Thou hast so ordained it—hence He adds: "Thy will be done. Even this justice depends on the Divine will, requiring satisfaction for sin from the human race. But if He had willed to free man from sin without any satisfaction, He would not have acted against justice. For a judge, while preserving justice , cannot pardon fault without penalty, if he must visit fault committed against another—for instance, against another man , or against the State, or any Prince in higher authority.

But God has no one higher than Himself, for He is the sovereign and common good of the whole universe. Consequently, if He forgive sin , which has the formality of fault in that it is committed against Himself, He wrongs no one: just as anyone else, overlooking a personal trespass, without satisfaction, acts mercifully and not unjustly. And so David exclaimed when he sought mercy: "To Thee only have I sinned " Psalm , as if to say: "Thou canst pardon me without injustice.

Human faith , and even the Divine Scriptures upon which faith is based, are both based on the Divine foreknowledge and ordinance.

Crucifixion – The Physical Suffering of Jesus

And the same reason holds good of that necessity which comes of supposition, and of the necessity which arises of the Divine foreknowledge and will. Article 3. Whether there was any more suitable way of delivering the human race than by Christ's Passion? It would seem that there was some other more suitable way of delivering the human race besides Christ's Passion. For nature in its operation imitates the Divine work, since it is moved and regulated by God. But nature never employs two agents where one will suffice. Therefore, since God could have liberated mankind solely by His Divine will, it does not seem fitting that Christ's Passion should have been added for the deliverance of the human race.

Further, natural actions are more suitably performed than deeds of violence , because violence is "a severance or lapse from what is according to nature ," as is said in De Coelo ii. But Christ's Passion brought about His death by violence. Therefore it would have been more appropriate had Christ died a natural death rather than suffer for man's deliverance.

Further, it seems most fitting that whatsoever keeps something unjustly and by violence , should be deprived of it by some superior power; hence Isaias says : "You were sold gratis, and you shall be redeemed without money. Therefore it seems most suitable that Christ should have despoiled the devil solely by His power and without the Passion.

On the contrary, St. Augustine says De Trin. I answer that, Among means to an end that one is the more suitable whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful to such end. But in this that man was delivered by Christ's Passion , many other things besides deliverance from sin concurred for man's salvation. In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation ; hence the Apostle says Romans : " God commendeth His charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners.

Christ died for us. Hence it is written 1 Peter : " Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin , according to 1 Corinthians : "You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body. Hence it is written 1 Corinthians : "Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even nature uses several means to one intent, in order to do something more fittingly: as two eyes for seeing; and the same can be observed in other matters. As Chrysostom [ Athanasius , Orat. De Incarn.

The Passion of the Christ

Hence it was not by reason of His being bound to die that He laid His body aside, but because the death He endured was inflicted on Him by men. But even if His body had sickened and dissolved in the sight of all men , it was not befitting Him who healed the infirmities of others to have his own body afflicted with the same. And even had He laid His body aside without any sickness, and had then appeared, men would not have believed Him when He spoke of His resurrection.

For how could Christ's victory over death appear, unless He endured it in the sight of all men , and so proved that death was vanquished by the incorruption of His body? Although the devil assailed man unjustly , nevertheless, on account of sin , man was justly left by God under the devil's bondage. And therefore it was fitting that through justice man should be delivered from the devil's bondage by Christ making satisfaction on his behalf in the Passion.

This was also a fitting means of overthrowing the pride of the devil , "who is a deserter from justice , and covetous of sway"; in that Christ "should vanquish him and deliver man , not merely by the power of His Godhead, but likewise by the justice and lowliness of the Passion ," as Augustine says De Trin. Article 4.

The Crucifix

Whether Christ ought to have suffered on the cross? It would seem that Christ ought not to have suffered on the cross. For the truth ought to conform to the figure. But in all the sacrifices of the Old Testament which prefigured Christ the beasts were slain with a sword and afterwards consumed by fire. Therefore it seems that Christ ought not to have suffered on a cross, but rather by the sword or by fire.

Further, Damascene says De Fide Orth. On the contrary, It is written Philippians : "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. First of all, as an example of virtue.


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For Augustine thus writes QQ. But it is part of righteous living not to stand in fear of things which ought not to be feared. Now there are some men who, although they do not fear death in itself, are yet troubled over the manner of their death. In order, then, that no kind of death should trouble an upright man , the cross of this Man had to be set before him, because, among all kinds of death, none was more execrable, more fear-inspiring, than this.

And so, to atone for that sin , it was fitting that Christ should suffer by being fastened to a tree, as if restoring what Adam had purloined; according to Psalm : "Then did I pay that which I took not away.

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Hence Gregory of Nyssa observes In Christ. III, ad 2] also says that upon the cross "He dies with outstretched hands in order to draw with one hand the people of old, and with the other those who spring from the Gentiles. Length is the tree's extent from the beam to the ground; and there it is planted—that is, it stands and abides—which is the note of longanimity. Height is in that portion of the tree which remains over from the transverse beam upwards to the top, and this is at the head of the Crucified, because He is the supreme desire of souls of good hope.

But that part of the tree which is hidden from view to hold it fixed, and from which the entire rood springs, denotes the depth of gratuitous grace. For, as Augustine says in a sermon on the Passion Serm. The altar of holocausts, upon which the sacrifices of animals were immolated, was constructed of timbers, as is set forth Exodus 27 :, and in this respect the truth answers to the figure; but "it is not necessary for it to be likened in every respect, otherwise it would not be a likeness," but the reality, as Damascene says De Fide Orth.

But in particular, as Chrysostom [ Athanasius , vide A, III, ad 2] says: "His head is not cut off, as was done to John; nor was He sawn in twain, like Isaias, in order that His entire and indivisible body might obey death, and that there might be no excuse for them who want to divide the Church. Christ refused to undergo dishonorable sufferings which are allied with defects of knowledge , or of grace , or even of virtue , but not those injuries inflicted from without—nay, more, as is written Hebrews : "He endured the cross, despising the shame.

As Augustine says Contra Faust. Acknowledge, then, that it was for us He took the curse upon Himself, whom you confess to have died for us. Whether Christ endured all suffering? It would seem that Christ did endure all sufferings, because Hilary De Trin. Further, it is written Isaiah : "Behold My servant shall understand, He shall be exalted and extolled, and shall be exceeding high; as many as have been astonished at Him [ Vulgate : 'thee', so shall His visage be inglorious among men, and His form among the sons of men.

Therefore it seems that He was "inglorious," by enduring every human suffering. Further, Christ's Passion was ordained for man's deliverance from sin , as stated above Article 3. But Christ came to deliver men from every kind of sin. Therefore He ought to have endured every kind of suffering.

On the contrary, It is written John : "The soldiers therefore came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him; but after they were come to Jesus , when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. I answer that, Human sufferings may be considered under two aspects. First of all, specifically, and in this way it was not necessary for Christ to endure them all, since many are mutually exclusive, as burning and drowning; for we are dealing now with sufferings inflicted from without, since it was not beseeming for Him to endure those arising from within, such as bodily ailments, as already stated III But, speaking generically, He did endure every human suffering.

This admits of a threefold acceptance. First of all, on the part of men : for He endured something from Gentiles and from Jews ; from men and from women , as is clear from the women servants who accused Peter. He suffered from the rulers, from their servants and from the mob, according to Psalm : "Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?

The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord and against His Christ. Secondly, the same is evident on the part of the sufferings which a man can endure. For Christ suffered from friends abandoning Him; in His reputation, from the blasphemies hurled at Him; in His honor and glory , from the mockeries and the insults heaped upon Him; in things, for He was despoiled of His garments; in His soul , from sadness, weariness, and fear; in His body, from wounds and scourgings.

Thirdly, it may be considered with regard to His bodily members.

The Passion of Christ: Good Friday

In His head He suffered from the crown of piercing thorns; in His hands and feet, from the fastening of the nails; on His face from the blows and spittle; and from the lashes over His entire body. Moreover, He suffered in all His bodily senses: in touch, by being scourged and nailed; in taste, by being given vinegar and gall to drink; in smell, by being fastened to the gibbet in a place reeking with the stench of corpses, "which is called Calvary"; in hearing, by being tormented with the cries of blasphemers and scorners; in sight, by beholding the tears of His Mother and of the disciple whom He loved.

Hilary's words are to be understood as to all classes of sufferings, but not as to their kinds. The likeness is sustained, not as to the number of the sufferings and graces , but as to their greatness; for, as He was uplifted above others in gifts of graces , so was He lowered beneath others by the ignominy of His sufferings. The very least one of Christ's sufferings was sufficient of itself to redeem the human race from all sins ; but as to fittingness, it sufficed that He should endure all classes of sufferings, as stated above.

Article 6.

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