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February 5, 2014

“Sir, We Would Like to See Jesus” (Mar-Apr 2004)

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A Lawyer Responds to The Passion of the Christ

by Larry Bridgesmith
March – April, 2004

After twenty-five years of witness interviews, depositions and trial testimony, it remains amazing that witnesses to the same event can perceive it in vastly different fashion. “He said” becomes “she said.” The “car was red.” No, “it was green.” And somehow, the truth is derived from conflicting accounts.

So it is with Christ. It was then. It is now. Sometimes we see what we want to see. It may be that we see what we fear we will see. Occasionally, we refuse to see at all. Our biases, our fears, our preconditions and subconscious expectations flavor our perceptions to a great degree.

Thus, some critics see The Passion of the Christ through the jaded eyes of sophisticated supremacy. Some, expecting to find anti-Semitic diatribe, find it. Others refuse to see it, yet pass judgment on its content and impact.

His mother saw the crucified Christ through the eyes of one who picked him up as a boy when he fell. Another saw him as the protector from the crowd who would stone her for her sexual sins. The Roman soldiers saw just another piece of human refuse. The religious leaders saw a threat. Claudia saw an omen of distress and trouble. Pilate saw the political expediency of the death of one over the civil unrest of many. The Holy Father saw a deeply loved son who gave him great pleasure and the tear that fell from heaven shattered the foundations of the order of things and tore down the barrier between man and God.

The audience with whom I saw the movie demonstrated many differing perceptions of the experience. The teenage male sitting behind me saw something in the passion of Christ that led him to sob uncontrollably for fully two-thirds of the movie. The African-American woman sitting just down the row from me saw an opportunity to engage in the story and verbalized her disgust, her encouragement and her words of warning throughout the showing of the movie. The wife of 36 years who sat beside me saw violence with open eyes that she would never have witnessed in any other movie.

Then there were the emotionally disconnected viewers whose need to control led them to detached observations about cinematography, music scores and story lines that were “unexplained.” The theological critics who found the movie “not authentic to the text.”

But everyone saw something.

And that is how it was with Jesus. Some saw in him the answer to man’s dilemma while others saw political solutions to the Jewish plight. Some saw a troublemaker or a blasphemer while others saw a teacher in whose words there was no pretense, only challenge. Some saw a friend. Some saw a Savior.

The perils of perception are always with us. Our filters help, and hurt, distract and clarify—and, not or. We see through dark glasses. We see with the eyes of our heart. Often we can’t see at all.

As the disciples said to Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (John 12:21). The question for each who sees Jesus is, “What will you do with what you saw?”New Wineskins

bridgesmithLarry Bridgesmith is a member of the law firm Waller, Lansden, Dortch, & Davis, PLLC. He is also a shepherd with the Family of God at Woodmont Hills and chairman of the Zoe Group, Inc. He is married to Linda (his true helpmeet and lifesaver), the father of Lara(the mother of Iris) and Lance (the father of Tess), with whom he practices law and seeks the wonder of God’s adventure.

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