Actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the movie The Passion of the Christ, got a glimpse of Jesus’ suffering during filming. On one occasion he was struck by lightning. Another time, he dislocated his shoulder after falling while (literally) carrying his cross. He suffered sickness that was aggravated by the ever-changing weather. While filming the scenes where Christ is flogged, the actors playing Roman soldiers accidently missed the protective board on his back, giving Caviezel real lashes.
During the filming of the crucifixion, Caviezel hung on a cross, buffeted by stiff winds. The cross swayed as much as three feet in either direction, aggravating his shoulder injury. That was when Caviezel wondered if he had made a mistake. Caviezel says:
For the first time, I started questioning whether I had done the right thing. More important, I wondered whether it would be possible to finish the film.
I actually had the thought that this cross is killing me…. It wasn't funny at the time. I was in pain and I was freezing. Then something happened. It's hard to explain, except to say it might be what an athlete goes through when he seems to be thoroughly beaten and defeated, and then he finds the strength within him to overcome and win.
This Sunday, as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark, we will be entering the part of Jesus’ story referred to in the title of the movie. We will be reminded of the Passion of Christ. Here, passion means suffering. And we’ll see that Christ’s suffering was not just physical; it was also spiritual and emotional.
That becomes clear as we watch Jesus pray in Gethsemane. But the point is not just for us to watch Jesus’ suffering for the sake of seeing it. I think we are also meant to learn from it. In watching Jesus, and seeing who he is, even in the midst of suffering, we can learn about what it means to be followers of the Messiah.