Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passion and Confession and Absolution

Took me awhile, but I finally watched Mel Gibson's "The Passion" (too lazy to check to make sure that is the right name) with my husband and oldest boys. It was well done as I have been told. There were several things I thought the movie did well. The agony of Christ is the most obvious of course. The others were a bit more subtle but they stuck out to me.

In relation to Confession and Absolution, there were several thoughts that ran through my mind. I am not a pastor so perhaps this is not theologically correct (feel free to correct me), but I felt they portrayed Judas very well. I don't know how the rest of you have pictured Judas but the fact that he was "one of the twelve", part of that group of ordinary men who were chosen to be the twelve, was well portrayed. He falls into temptation, is bought off, and betrays his Lord with a kiss. Many other depictions I've seen of Judas in both art and on screen, he seems somehow more obviously sinister but in this rendition, he is so much like the rest of the twelve in many ways. Why else would they all have asked who was it who would betray their Lord.

So the movie very clearly depicts, after he betrays Jesus, Judas horrified at his sin. Demons literally chase him and he is tormented. He goes to the Priests and is turned away. He is turned away and left to his torment and despair. It kept going through my mind how he went to the priests and was turned away. Now his sin horrifies us all too, but I guess I am perhaps overly sensitive to fellow human suffering. We all suffer. We all have known torment for our sin. Mentally we struggle. Judas obviously was tormented and suffered the guilt of his sin. I think I doth detect the suffering of others too much at times. What did Judas really desire when he went to the Priests? He wanted his burden lifted and taken away. He could not bear his burden and so was truly driven to despair and ended his life at his own hand to end his suffering. There was no way out. The movies use of the demons chasing him and the grabbing of his head in an expression of utter despair, how death is all around him and haunts him and even the rope signifying his being driven to see death as the only way out of his despair were all clearly depicted. Sigh. All of these emotions are very well done.

So....when we go to our Pastor in our distress and in our sin for Confession and Absolution, we do not go expecting to be turned away. We go to be absolved, to be counseled and comforted by the Gospel. Christ suffered to conquer sin, death and the grave so we would not have to. He suffers with us when we suffer. We go to Confession and Absolution not to be *better* Christians, but to take comfort in the rest Jesus intends us to have. Resting is sweet. Resting in Jesus is sweetest and hearing those words of absolution is that rest in Jesus. Forgiven. He suffered that agony so we could rest and not be tormented. When we are told by our pastors not to despair and the words of the benediction are said, that is because the Pastor means it. Don't despair. Don't be tormented by your sin but receive and know the forgiveness of sin in Christ our Lord. Those are not just idle words. They do not want us to suffer as Judas suffered and countless others suffer. Pastors desire for us to know the rest that is only found in Jesus.

So......Confession and Absolution is exactly what Jesus wants for you. If you are not offered it, ask for it. Don't worry about your Pastor's feelings as that is not your problem. He is called to do it. Jesus wants you to rest in that wonderful comfort. It is just that simple. It is really the most tangible way Christ gives us besides His Holy Supper, to know and be assured of the forgiveness of sins. How sweet it is. How sweet it is.

Feel free to correct me in any of this. Smile.

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