When I was about twelve years old I found myself in a love/hate relationship with a daytime television show. It was called Dark Shadows. Every afternoon after school, my brother and I would turn on the
television to be scared to death. The show always began with eerie music and scenes of the cast. Barnabas, who was a vampire, was the star. Of course, the cast had no idea about his well-guarded secret.
Barnabas was in love with a woman name Angelique. She had died hundreds of years before, but his love for her never died. We watched in horror as Barnabas planned to woo a woman who looked amazingly like Angelique. He planned to bite her on the neck so that she too would become a vampire. The scenario was always the same. Barnabas would invite his unsuspecting victim over to his house or some other place so that they could be alone.
We wanted to warn her. We tried yelling at the television set, "Don’t go in there! He’s a vampire! Stay away!" But of course she could not hear us. As the suspense grew, the music changed in order to reflect the new, intense mood of the plot. I found myself squirming in my seat. I just couldn't SIT THERE and watch this poor woman be bitten by a vampire! So, I did what every red blooded American kid would do…I RAN!
Leaving the room really didn’t help. I wasn’t able to make myself go very far, just barely out of the room; out of the view of the television set. I could still tell something was going on. That music! I will never forget
that music! I peaked around the corner so that I could see. Fridays were especially frightening. I wanted to see, and yet I did not want to see. My brother, a year younger than I, thought my behavior was down right
stupid. He just didn’t understand! If I watched the show from around the corner I was well prepared to run if anything really bad started to happen. Week after week, Angelique somehow escaped the bite of the
vampire. Whew! I get chills just thinking about it!
Okay, you’re laughing at me. I can hear you from here. I’ll just bet you have a movie, or TV show story of your own to tell. When we sit before the screen and watch as a well told story unfolds; we are drawn into it as if we were there. Our intellect tells us that it is all just a show, actors portraying parts, lines memorized, a story acted out with makeup and wardrobe worn. However, if our hearts become involved we loose all sense of reality. The story can bring tears to our eyes, cause our blood to boil, or make us cheer out loud.
Somehow, we allow ourselves to be lost in the story. Transported to another time and place, we connect with the characters and share the experience as if we were there ourselves. It is that deep emotional connection that keeps us coming back for more. We watch TV, and attend movies to be frightened, amazed, inspired, made to laugh, and cry all at the same time. It is a fantasy world in which the good guys always win and problems can be solved in just a couple of hours.
As we leave the theater and step out into the fresh air, reality returns and reminds us that it was "just a movie." Now, that is how movies are supposed to be. Mel Gibson has produced a movie that is more frightening for me than any episode of Dark Shadows. It is more moving and more powerful than any movie I have ever seen. I have not seen the movie yet, but I have seen the previews and they scare me to death! Why? Because when I step out into the fresh air afterwards, reality will not comfort me with its’ normal, "It’s just a movie." No, on the contrary, reality will hit me square in the face and remind me that this story is
The cruelties, the injustices, the love, the hate, the struggle, death and resurrection actually happened. Not only will I have to face the fact that these things happened; I will also have to accept my role in this story.
This time I am not a mere bystander. I am as much a part of this story as any character on the screen. I am the reason these terrible things happened to an innocent man. I am the reason that Jesus was beaten, spit
upon, and mocked. I am the reason that he suffered and died on the cross. ME! He suffered and died for me!
Entertainment, not hardly. This movie is a look into a reality that few of us have ever dared to take. It is not the purified version of Christ on the cross with a few well-placed trickles of blood running down his face. It is not the modern civilized version of what a scourging and crucifixion looks like. It is the raw, uncensored look at what Jesus experienced. It is cruel, harsh, powerful, dramatic, and moving. Can I handle the truth? Can I really see for the first time what my sin cost the Son of God? Can I live with myself knowing His blood rests on my shoulders, my head? I don’t know.
I do know this: I am going to see this movie; and when I do, I won’t be able to run. I won’t be able to hide from the truth. I won’t be able to yell at the screen. All I can do is sit there and watch as an innocent man suffers and dies for me. Frankly, the thought scares me to death!