They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. Mark 15, verses 27-32.
This past Sunday, on Palm Sunday, Fox TV broadcast “The Passion:” a live-action Tyler Perry musical drama about the last days of Jesus. It was told by modern actors, set in modern-day New Orleans, to the tune of modern pop music with very few lyrics modified. One scene acted out one of the verses above. In it, Jesus has been apprehended and is being hauled away in a police wagon. He wears an orange jumpsuit, like other common criminals, and is in the vehicle with 2 other men. One hurls insults at Him; the other defends Him. Later in the show, a crowd is shown screaming for Jesus’ crucifixion, the release of Barabbas, and Mary’s anguish. The drama didn’t show the actual crucifixion, though it was alluded to by a group of pallbearers carrying a lighted cross through downtown New Orleans.
What struck me about the whole TV show was that it was contemporary and believable. Yes, there was some ‘mushy theology’ involved, some misquoting of Scripture, and some things that were done out of line in how they actually appeared in the account of Holy Week. Big freaking deal. We shouldn’t get wrapped around the axle of details when we can consider what was being done. I’m told that the Monday morning ratings and reviews for the show weren’t good. They don’t matter.
Someone used their position to share the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way that was modern, understandable, and plausible. But it begs the thought: would we as so-called modern people do the same things that the people of Jerusalem did 2000 years ago? Would we heap scorn and murder on the Son of God if He showed up here today? Would we ridicule Him? Would we demand His death? Would we nail him up with thieves and criminals? Would we insult Him while He was dying?
Consider the brutality that is reported regularly in our news these days. ISIS murders thousands of people – Christian and Muslim alike – in the name of their pagan religion. In Chicago, there are a dozen or more murders every weekend, sometimes every day. Our presidential candidates are conducting their campaigns by appealing to the most base emotions and experiences of a largely uninformed voting public. Leaders in politics, entertainment and business scorn the public, relying on spin and deception to advance their various agendas while getting richer by the minute.
Would we insult the Messiah as He hung there dying? You bet we would.
Good ratings or not, God bless Tyler Perry for what he did. Thank You Jesus.
Thank You Jesus, my Lord, for inspiring people to tell Your story, to share the precious sacrifice You made for us.
Read Mark 15, verses 16-47.