Mel Gibson' s "The Passion of The Christ" has gone straight to the top of the UK box office after taking £2,019,803 in its first three days setting a new record for the highest opening of a subtitled film in the UK.
Its success on these shores mirrors its incredible run in the US, where the film topped the US box office for three weeks and has just passed the £165m mark.
Meanwhile in France, a bid by three Jewish brothers to have the film banned as anti-Semitic failed after a Paris court found there was no reason to keep it out of cinemas. But as well as being accused of anti-Semitism, it has also been welcomed with open arms by many Christians, who have bought thousands of tickets.
Gibson spent £14m of his own money making The Passion and it is now expected to become one of the highest grossing films of all time in UK cinemas.
Despite the film' s controversy, it has managed to stir religious discussions among many that would not have considered Jesus' life greatly this Easter. It is clear from countless reports of the film that some believe Gibson wants to blame the Jews for Jesus' death, though he denies any such intention.
But we must look at Jesus' life in a deeper light. Some have promoted that Jesus' death was a sin of the people, Jews and Romans of that age. However, to learn from this film we must also find our own image in these people. Not just focusing on the sins of the people at that time, rather we should discover our image as sinners so that we may learn and change.
The film makes it clear to us that testifying Jesus is essential and we must not deny Him. Film-goers were saddened as Jesus was being persecuted and have asked where were His disciples? Those who were closest to Jesus should have stood firm to testify Him. This shows the weakness of man, that we simply compromise in our faith. To be His true disciples today we must be strong to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ, no matter what the situation.
Gibson's film also allows us to see that we can only truly understand Jesus' heart and His pain when we take the suffering of the cross together. In the film, a Jew is forced to help Jesus carry the cross, and in the beginning he was not willing to do it. But later he realised Jesus' love and persistence to carry the cross, and he screamed at the Roman soldiers persecuting Jesus. He saw Jesus' heart of love for us and after carrying the cross with Christ, he wept.
Another scene shows two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus. One of them confesses his sins on the cross to Jesus and says that he was the one that deserved to be treated like this, but that Jesus did not - for He had no sins. The Passion shows that when these people are on the position of the cross, they will know that they are sinners. So when we understand Jesus' love and sufferings, we too can take up the position of the cross and realise Jesus' humbleness compared to our arrogance.
The Passion of The Christ has certainly excelled in promoting discussions about Jesus, and we can take a great deal from it in walking our paths of faith. Obviously the film is in no ways perfect in portraying Jesus to the world, and we should not expect this of Gibson. However, we must ensure that we ponder on the messages given, and in the light of Jesus absolute love and sacrifice, look for the deeper meaning in what is being proclaimed. It is then that the film s true worth can be seen.