Although the passion of the Christ does give a pretty accurate compilation of the four Gospels, there are some deviations that are presented (albeit less than 1,000 words will not allow me to cover them all). For example, in the beginning, there is a scene where Jesus is praying, and the devil attempted to distract him. Jesus crushed a serpent. This was not in any of the Gospels but in Genesis 3:15. Perhaps it was used to establish a clear relationship between the devil and Jesus because this was important throughout the movie. The devil appeared sporadically and the scene with the snake introduced the devil’s evil nature while depicting Jesus as the enemy of evil. In addition, there is a scene where the devil is carrying a baby while Jesus is getting flogged. Unfortunately, none of the scenes of the Gospels go into much detail about the flogging in general. It would seem that without the depiction of Jesus being tortured wrongfully, the film would not be able to have its graphic nature and it would take away from the feeling of sympathy and sorrow that the audience feels of Jesus. It is one thing to say that Jesus was tortured but it is much more theatrically useful to depict it in all its genuine violence. Lastly, the soldier’s hatred toward Jesus is much more clearly visualized. Finally, when Jesus’ crucifixion is complete, the scene with the devil yelling in anger reflects that Jesus has accomplished the salvation of man.
With regard to the type of trial that Jesus had, we see a mix between a formal gathering of the priests and an informal mob who taunts him. The fact that it takes place during the nighttime suggests that perhaps it was a more random and informal incident. Moreover, the presence of the mob there also suggests that it was used to present his trial as an informal act of anger by the mob and priests. In fact, one priest questioned the validity of the trial and asked why the other priests were not present. It is clear that those in the trial were all strongly in favor of Jesus’ death. In the Gospels, however, there variance among them as to whether it was a formal trial or an isolated incident. Once again, an informal and responsive trial reflects the hatred and unfair treatment of Jesus.
The relationship between Pilate and the mob also reflects some differences. The Passion clearly reiterates that Pilate finds Jesus innocent and even does his best to try and get Jesus out of the death sentence. The Gospel of Luke fits his trial and flogging portion because Pilate exonerated himself from the blame by washing his hands clean while letting the leaders stir up the mob to have him executed. This shows that the Roman leader saw that Jesus was innocent genuinely and was acting in order to maintain political control. Clearly, the blame is put on the Jews who were stirred up by the priests. Moreover, the reason for the crucifixion fits the Gospel of Matthew because Pilate was afraid of the reaction of the mob. Clearly, he did not want to upset social order. His struggle for making a good decision was exemplified by the discourse he had with his wife about the implications of either decision. This relates back to Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven being compared to and threatening the Kingdom of Rome in the Harper Collins introduction to the Gospel. In addition, the chief priest and antagonist exemplified this by pointing out that Jesus urged his followers not to pay Roman tribute tax, which went against the law of the Kingdom of Rome.
Also, the fate of Judas is visualized in the Passion as a horrific hallucination where children acquire the faces of demons and chase him until he hangs himself. Only the hanging is illustrated in Matthew and not in the other main Gospels. However, this does serve the purpose of portraying God’s wrath onto him because he betrayed the son of man while portraying his own guilt. It is symbolic in the sense that it presents a spiritual view of the events. That is, just like the convict who had his eyes pecked out, it a symbol of wrath and punishment for betraying the son of man. Clearly, the scene of him hanging himself (Judas) was glorified so that it would reinforce Judas’ legacy as a traitor. It is curious to note that the devil did watch in the background right before Judas hung himself.
Clearly, the text of the Gospels is intertwined with all of them to highlight certain points. Firstly, there is a clear relationship between the devil and Jesus that reflects that they both knew the outcome of the events and the implications. Furthermore, the sympathy of Pilate toward Jesus and the hatred of the priests is exemplified to show that the Jewish high priests and the mob is accountable for his death, despite Luke suggesting that the Jews (without the priests) solely wanted Jesus dead. Also, the very dramatic and spiritual death of Jesus suggest that he was of heavenly origins, just like the spiritual source reflected. All in all, I would suggest students to watch this because it would be beneficial to pick apart which scenes came from which Gospel and why a certain scene was shown. For instance, the struggle of Pilate to make a decision that would maintain social order is very informative of the fragile political circumstances that Luke presented.