The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is the founder and president of two dynamic organizations: BOND (Brotherhood Organization Of A New Destiny), a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to "Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man," and BOND Action, a 501(c) (4) organization whose purpose is to educate, motivate and rally Americans – especially black Americans – to greater involvement in the moral, cultural and political issues that threaten ourMore ↓Less ↑
I was fortunate enough to see an advance screening of Mel Gibson’s much-discussed film, “The Passion of the Christ,” which details the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life. Superbly constructed, the movie reminded me through brilliant illustration of the agony and pain that Christ went through for us, so that we could be saved from sin. Though I am a minister of some 14 years and have read the gospels many times over, I’d never quite grasped the level of suffering inherent in a crucifixion, particularly when it was performed on a man as hated as Christ.
Though by now many of you have heard a great deal about the film in the media, I have a few insights of my own that I will express in this article. Some contradict much of the press; others have hardly been mentioned by anyone – particularly my expectation of what the reaction of many blacks will be. Before I get to that good stuff though, I’ll run through some of my basic observations.
First, I don’t see how Jews can be afraid of anti-Semitism stemming from the movie. Some sick people will take any excuse to inflict harm on people. (Charles Manson thought the Beatles told him, in one of their albums, to start a race war.) It’s beyond the reasonable expectation to stifle and censor messages of good intention just because some crackpot might construe it as the go-ahead to kill everyone. The movie certainly portrayed the weakness of Pontius Pilate and the hatred the leaders of the day harbored for Jesus, but that is to be expected – nay, demanded. Certainly these men cannot be portrayed as well-meaning, kind and generous of spirit! “The Passion of the Christ” illustrated the evil of the ruling elite of Christ’s day – and no one beyond that.
Second – and this I’m pleased to report – I believe this movie will cause Christians to re-think their relationship with Christ and come closer to God. Perhaps more encouraging, I predict that “The Passion” will increase appreciation of Christ among non-Christians and open-minded non-believers. I have long discussed that our battle on this earth is spiritual, not physical. That spiritual foundation was cemented with Christ’s life and sacrificial death. By watching this movie and then looking within themselves, some will begin to discern the spiritual connection between their life and God’s ordained spiritual order. Certain spiritual laws and undeniable truths will become clearer. This movie will revive and re-awaken the spirits of many, and the results will be exciting to behold.
Now to the more interesting observations. How will blacks react to “The Passion”? My answer to this will sound absolutely insane to some – particularly to white readers, who know that all too many blacks are crazy but don’t know quite how crazy – but bear with me, because a sizable sector of the American black population will react in the way I am predicting. One main complaint amongst some blacks will be that this movie does not represent black people because in their minds, Jesus was black.
Don’t believe me? Then take it from Malik Z. Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Shabazz believes “The Passion” is “harmful and racist” because of “one very basic inaccuracy which has been long-promoted in order to bolster white supremacy.” That basic inaccuracy, according to Shabazz? “Jesus was not a European white man. Jesus Christ was a black man.” Shabazz even complains about the lack of black actors in the film. His motto seems to be: “History be damned – where are the black actors, and where’s Jesus’ afro!”
This is hardly a scarce notion amongst black Americans. Believe me. I live in the black community. Many believe this! Some of my own relatives even believe this! Therefore, many blacks believe that Christianity is the white man’s religion and that Islam is the true religion of black folks!
So for those of you who see “The Passion of the Christ” and wonder how anyone could have suggested that it was anti-Semitic, know that those aren’t the only crazy beliefs out there. But more importantly, know that with this movie you are given an opportunity for self-reflection and a chance to reconsider your relationship with Christ and again become one with him, no matter your color.