Unnecessary violence?

Unnecessary violence?

Some people object to The Passion by saying that the depiction of the violence is unecessarily gruesome and even gratuitous. But the best sources say that this is what scourging and crucifixion were like and it tracks with what the Bible tells us.

Perhaps a better question is to ask whether the violence done to Jesus was necessary at all. After all, if all that was required was for Jesus to die, there a lot of simpler, less gruesome ways that God could have arranged it. He could have been run through by a Roman sword. He could have dropped dead of a heart attack. No, for some reason He needed to undergo this bloody, unrelenting, violent, brutally painful event. Why is that? Was it necessary?

I think it was, because it teaches us something. For one thing, it shows the depths of God’s love for us that the Father and the Son were willing to see the Son endure this. It is evidence that when Jesus said love means to lay down your life for your friends, he didn’t just mean it figuratively, but literally, even if it involved the worst kind of pain and suffering. For another thing, it illustrates using physical suffering the spiritual gravity of the punishment due for our sins. The “sentence” for sin is not just the spiritual equivalent of time served and a slap on the wrist. It’s not even our modern “compassionate” form of capital punishment. It is the brutal and unrelenting torture and punishment and agonizing death of the Cross.

Finally, it illustrates our own capacity for evil, the twistedness in human nature caused by sin that allows us to contemplate doing such monstrous things to others. Of course, human history gives much too many illustrations of the principle, but that we would do this even to the One who came to bring us to the Father, who taught love, mercy, and forgiveness, who presented no challenge to the political leaders, could be falsely accused and strung up without mercy, this is an indictment against us of our potential for evil.

Unnecessary? God didn’t think so.

[See Fr. Rob Johansen’s thoughts in this vein as well as some other cogent ideas I agree with.]
Written by
Domenico Bettinelli