Friday, June 3, 2011
A Divine and Sinless Christ: The Last Temptation of Christ
If a snake said to me, “look at my breasts, do you recognize them,” I’d put myself in a straightjacket. This is just one of many provocative, albeit controversial, moments in the novel turned film, The Last Temptation of Christ. The story deals with two primary theological questions (though there were others): Was Jesus without sin and what is the nature of Christ (is he God)? The film depicts Jesus as a sinful being and waivers back and forth with his Godhood.
In the film, the “last temptation,” if you will, thwarts the cross event – death and resurrection – and the justification (salvation) of the human race. Compared to that, the other temptations in the film (sexual encounters, lying, retribution, and so on) are just playful mockery of the divine essence of Jesus Christ. As the story goes, Jesus sinned, by being deceived out of fulfilling the resurrection. One could infer, he did not have the power of God in him and that is why the Archangel of Satan was able to trick him.
Truthfully, the deception of Jesus Christ is quite a claim and one ought to ask, how does a Christian respond to The Last Temptation of Christ? First, it is important to remember that the film is fiction. Second, learn to laugh at the controversially-erotic content of the film – you might be entertained by the absurdity. Third, don’t be afraid to allow films, like this one, to make you think over challenging questions.
As for the primary theological questions raised in the film, Paul talks about the sin nature, in conjunction with Jesus, in 2 Corinthians 5 (it is found elsewhere too) and says Christ was without sin. And, for the divine characteristic of Christ, John 10:22-30 emphatically declares that Christ, the Son, and God, the Father, are one. Finally, the cross event – death and resurrection of the Messiah – is the most important event in human history and its salvific effect cannot be thwarted.