Well, now we understand why Icon Pictures refused to let such folks as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have an advance viewing of his new movie on the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus. The ADL has issued a press release expressing its "concern" that the movie will "fuel anti-Semitism" by reinforcing the notion of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus":
"The film unambiguously portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob as the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We are deeply concerned that the film, if released in its present form, will fuel the hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism that many responsible churches have worked hard to repudiate."
Ah, those "responsible churches", which seem to be defined as the ones who dance to the ADL tune regardless of what Scripture says.
Let's look at the first of ADL's bulleted objections:
The film portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish "mob" as forcing the decision to torture and execute Jesus, thus assuming responsibility for the crucifixion.
And what we find written in the Bible:
16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"
18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death.
21 But the governor said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas."
22 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Crucify Him!"
23 And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Crucify Him!"
24 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves."
25 And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!"
26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. --Matt. 27:16-26, NASB
So we have a mob who, under the influence of the high priestly party (the Sadducees along with the majority of the Sanhedrin), demands the crucifixion of Jesus. The mob explicitly assumes responsibility, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!" Now it might be an uncomfortable scene, but it's also what Scripture records. The wonderful thing is that God graciously provided salvation through the Son who was crucified:
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." --Acts 2:36-39
The very ones guilty for Jesus' death are given the first opportunity to gain forgiveness through repentance and baptism. We find Jews (the apostles) proclaiming the gospel of the King of the Jews (Jesus) first to other Jews. That Pentecost about 3000 Jews were saved by the gospel. This is Anti-Semitic?
I must add, that one of their objections mentions something that has concerned me about the movie--no, not potential "anti-Semitism"--but rather non-Biblical sources:
The film uses an anti-Jewish account of a 19th century mystical anti-Semitic nun...
Now, whether the nun was "anti-Jewish" and "anti-Semitic" I can't speak to. I can't rely on the ADL for that information since they only consider Scripture as bowlderized by "responsible churches" to be acceptable to them. However, I'd prefer that this movie, which seems to have some promise, not be corrupted by the imaginings of some 19th Century nun.
That's my concern for the movie, not the fear-mongering of the ADL. It's proof Gibson should have continued to keep them out, and tell them to buy a ticket next spring.