The Last Temptation of Christ
A reflection after watching the film
It’s Christmas eve and I have decided to see what comes.
I practice silent prayer within the Quaker tradition and I thought as I make these videos at different times that tonight I would just wait and see what comes. Occasionally I do this. If nothing comes nothing comes you will just hear silence.
Perhaps it is a good practice for all of us to be still, to be silent and see what may come.
I am just going to fall into silence and if something arises I will speak and if nothing arises I guess this video will not see the light of day.
If you would like to join me in silence we will now begin the silence.
(The video is below if you wish to listen otherwise scroll past it to continue)
At 1 minute 43 in silence begins.
At 5 minutes 56, the silence ends
I am not sure whether this is coming from the silence or from me that is one of the things you will have to work out. I have to work it out as well.
What is coming to me and what has been on my mind since I watched it last night was the film, ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’. This was a film, which was released in 1998, the director was Martin Scorsese and there was a lot of controversy about it, was it blasphemous? At that time I would have been cautious and not watched it and I hadn't watched it until last night. That was 33 years since its release.
The film didn't bother me as much as perhaps I thought it would and in some ways I wondered what was the controversy about. I don't know if you have seen the film if you have you will know if you haven't I will describe to you what I think the controversy is.
Whilst Jesus is on the cross I guess he has what is called ‘The last temptation’ where he has a fantasy of having sex with Mary either Magdalene or the sister of Martha.
It does say at the start that the film is not taken from the gospels it is the interpretation of the author who wrote the book from which the film came.
In some ways, it made for an easier Jesus because the image we have got, some may say rightly, is of this perfect man (I am not into the controversy of that) but it didn't take away from me that Jesus was tempted. Hebrews talks about we have a great High priest who was tempted in every way as is common to every man.
New International Version — Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin.
I guess we could get into what is temptation and what is what. Some people may not get their heads around that Jesus was tempted sexually, that Jesus may have had a sexual fantasy with Mary. For me, that makes him more human and that makes me less shameful of my own sexual fantasies. And that of course hits on sex such a taboo subject still and yet it is every part of our lives, in who we are and how we live, it is not just the act it is part of our make-up.
Once again a depiction of Jesus by a film director, an author has me watching, reading to see if I recognise this Jesus that I have known since I have known. And of course, as it is Christmas Eve we are thinking of the baby Jesus.
We depicted in a film in a sense ourselves with how we do it, with tradition. Yet there is something about films that make it real, that this was highly unusual, this was everyday stuff, miracles yes but…. but not the established Jesus that we have now, the established story, the established set-up. We have this raw energy, birthed in this baby just like you and me. We have this person who lives their life just like you and me, who has struggles and joys just like you and me. So what’s different? Well, we are all different we all have I believe a destiny, a plan, a place, a message.
There is something about the man Jesus that connects me to the God, to God, to God the father. That helps me when I see or sing the carols of Christmas and the crib to remember that this was a life lived not as I say as a film that we might depict.
Silence until end