Today is “Palm Sunday” and marks the start of the beginning of “Holy Week,” in our Christian faith and practice.
On this day we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the events of what is often called “Passion Week.” These final seven days of Jesus’ earthly ministry include His deep emotional and physical pain, leading to his substitutionary death, loving burial, and glorious resurrection (Matthew 21:1–11).
Now, jump with me to modern days, where actor Jim Caviezel has recently confirmed to USA Today that he will soon reprise his role as Jesus of Nazareth, in The Resurrection, a sequel to Mel Gibson’s 2004 biblical epic, The Passion of the Christ.
You may recall that the original film was an unexpected, mega-box-office success! It not only exceeded $370 million dollars in box office revenue but was the highest grossing R-rated film of all time in North America. It went on to gross $611 million worldwide!
In the nearly one and a half decades since the 2004 religious blockbuster, faith-based films have become their own movie genre. Currently, I Can Only Imagine is playing to religiously-minded audiences, as “the rest of the story” behind the top-played religious-song in the past two decades. Also, at the end of this month, the third in the “God is NOT Dead” trilogy, A Light in the Darkness will hit theaters.
Gibson, it seems, has been planning this sequel for several years. Earlier, he explained that “We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”
The Resurrection will be anything but “weird.” Gibson is teamed up with veteran movie writer Randall Wallace, who not only wrote the script for Gibson’s highly acclaimed Braveheart film but has his own experiences in faith-based films, having directed 2014’s Heaven is For Real.
With this background to the production’s inspirational story and the growing faith-based interest worldwide, acclaimed actor Jim Caviezel, himself a committed Christian and practicing Catholic, believes The Resurrection, “is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”
But, this is not just a “good” film story. It is the real story of people who honored Jesus verbally, but within the short days of this “Passion Week” their praise became condemnation and they rejected Him violently.
They saw him as a messiah. They wanted him to rescue them politically and free them nationally. This is not unlike some today who may see certain politicians as their “messiah.” They will do or say anything to get certain bills passed or issues funded. They have nationalistic aspirations over spiritual affirmation and obedience.
But, mankind’s primary need is spiritual, not political, cultural, or even national salvation. The Apostle Paul told the Philippian believers that there is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). At that point, there won’t be any “fake” worship. All will be genuine and glorious!
In the everlasting world to come, John the Revelator recorded a future scene which features the eternal celebration of our risen Lord: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, emphasis added).
Did you catch in the next verse how these palm-branch bearing saints will shout, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (verse 10)?
As we, again, experience the treasured thoughts of “Passion Week,” let us passionately re-commit to seriously serve Jesus our Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds, as we “purify ourselves” and await His promised return. For these end times, this is our true calling and our hope!