A. Judging by advance ticket sales and media attention, the movie, The Passion of The Christ, already is one of the most popular and controversial films of our time. These questions will help in thinking through the movie and in discussing it with others.
B. Passion, used in this sense means the suffering of Christ. It comes from a Latin word meaning having suffered .
1. Do you know why Jesus had to die?
A. When learning from The Passion of The Christ the facts about Jesus' suffering and crucifixion, it's essential to understand the reason for it. One of the most important of the many reasons given in the Bible why Jesus had to die was to receive the wrath of God in the place of others. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.
B. And because God is just and holy, He must punish those who have sinned. But because He also is loving, He was willing to send His Son -- Jesus -- to take the hammer blow of His wrath so that others might receive His mercy.
C. When Jesus allowed Himself to be spiked onto that wooden cross, He was accepting God's curse so that sinners could receive God's blessings forever. As Galatians 3:13 puts it, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'
2. Do you know who really killed Jesus?
A. There is no single, source to blame for killing Jesus.
B. First Century Perpetrators:
1. Judas betrayed him
2. The apostles forsook him
3. The Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus and drove the crucifixion.
4. The soldiers arrested Him and delivered Him to the Roman official, Pontius Pilate, for execution, and actually beat him and nailed him on the cross.
5. Pilate could have released Jesus, but he, too, shares responsibility because he succumbed to the pressure of the crowd.
6. The crowd in Jerusalem who kept shouting, Crucify Him! (Matthew 27:23).
7. The list of culprits in the first century goes on & on, but there are other culprits.
C. Sinners like you and me who killed Jesus. While we were yet sinners, the Apostle Paul tells us, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
D. Satan had his part, like the ugly mob boss who orders the execution of an enemy, when he entered the heart of Judas to betray Christ (John 13)
E. No one can point a finger at any other person or group for the death of Jesus. Your sins were the reason Jesus had to be crucified.
3. Do you understand why the crucifixion of Jesus wasn t just a terrible mistake?
A. Even, God the Father had His role in the Death of Jesus.
1. The Bible clearly says that Jesus was delivered over by the predetermined counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23).
2. Jesus did not die by mistake. Although our sins made Jesus' death necessary, God brought it to pass. So in God's sending Jesus to receive His wrath so others could receive eternal life, sinners are saved from God, by God.
B. Ultimately though, it was Not any man, or demon, who took the life of Jesus, but rather Jesus Christ himself who laid it down:
But Jesus said to him, Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? Matthew 26:52-54
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. John 10:17,18
4. Do you realize why Jesus' death was different from the death of everyone else in history?
A. The death of Jesus was unique because His life was unique. Since Jesus never sinned, He never had to die; He chose to die. In whom there was no guile
B. And because Jesus never broke the law of God, He could die as a substitute for lawbreakers.
C. Scripture tells us that Jesus was our Propitiation that is, our acceptable sacrifice.
1. The sacrificial lamb in the OT had to be spotless
D. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains, God the Father made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
5. Do you know why Jesus cried from the cross, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)?
A. When God in His justice laid the crushing guilt of sinners upon Jesus, God in His holiness then had to reject His own Son as a sinner.
B. As Jesus was suspended between earth and heaven, the prophecy of Isaiah 53:10 was fulfilled:
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin,
6. Do you know why Jesus' last words were, It is finished (John 19:30)?
A. God told mankind what would happen to the Christ in the form of prophesies, many hundreds of years before Jesus came. All through the gospels we find the phrase that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets Jesus himself said he came Not to destroy the law but to fulfill it .
B. Jesus could not say it is finished, until he had fulfilled all the prophesies that were to be fulfilled by the Christ before his death.
C. Because of His love, God sent Jesus to be the propitiation -- the wrath-taker -- for the sins of people who did not yet love Him.
In this is love, 1 John 4:10 says, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
D. Once He had taken our guilt and God's punishment, Jesus triumphantly declared to His Father, It is finished, and died.
7. Do you see the relationship between Jesus' death and His resurrection?
A. The resurrection of Jesus vindicates all His claims.
B. Anyone could claim, as Jesus did, to be the only way to God (John 14:6).
C. He did not claim to be a great preacher, or a moral leader, He claimed to be God s only son, and the only way to Heaven.
1. I could claim to be a great preacher or a moral leader and some would agree and some would disagree, but you would throw me out on my ear if I claimed to be God s only son.
D. But Jesus substantiated this and all His other claims by doing something no one else has ever done -- rising from the dead, never to die again.
E. Moreover, by not leaving Jesus in the grave, God showed that He accepted His Son's death as a substitute for the death of others.
F. The Bible is plain that the cross of Jesus, without the resurrection, would have meant, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
G. But now Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20), as proof that Jesus' death in the place of sinners satisfied the requirements of God's justice.
8. Do you realize what the death of Jesus can do for you that you cannot do for yourself?
A. First among many things is this:
B. The death of Jesus can make you righteous in the sight of God.
1. No amount of good that we do can atone for our sins or earn us a place in heaven.
C. And if we die without receiving the benefit of Jesus' death, the wrath of God will fall on us forever. The wages of sin is death Romans 6:23
D. Conversely, the Bible speaks of those who have experienced the benefit of the cross as those who have been justified by His blood, and declares that we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Romans 5:9).
E. To be justified means more than having all sins forgiven. It also means to be given credit for living the perfect life Jesus lived.
F. Through his life we are saved (Romans 5:11)
G. Only a perfect life gains entrance into a perfect world with a perfect God. And only through the death of Jesus can we get the perfect life of Jesus that we need to enter heaven.
9. Do you understand the central message of this greatest story ever told?
A. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, was crucified as a substitute for sinners, and He rose from the dead to be King over everyone and everything forever.
10. Do you know the biblical response to the message of The Passion of The Christ?
A. It's summarized in one of the best-known and best-loved verses in the Bible:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
A. Many people will have deep, but merely temporary, emotional responses to The Passion of The Christ. May the Lord grant you to find in the greatest evil ever committed -- the death of Jesus -- the greatest, richest and most satisfying blessing ever offered -- God Himself.
B. Will this be a momentary softening, or will it be the beginning of a long term change in your commitment to the Lord you decide.