It was 20 years ago that I enjoyed the privilege of portraying Jesus in the film The Gospel of Matthew. The experience was life-changing as I came to understand the Lord in ways I’d never imagined. I discovered His joy, His heartbreak, and the fire of His passion. I also discovered how remarkably alone Jesus was when He walked the earth.
After all, who could possibly understand a man whose thoughts and ways were so astoundingly removed from those of any other person? Even His closest companions never “got it” until after He’d ascended to His Father. How alone does that leave a man—especially that Golgotha day?
When we filmed the crucifixion scenes of Matthew, I arrived on the set after a three-hour make-up job that was so authentic none of the film crew could bear to look at me. I recall thinking of that scripture, “He was . . . like one from whom men hide their face” (Isa. 53:3), and realizing it was very real.
Then the filming began and the brutality was remarkable. We were just “faking it,” and the awfulness was indescribable. I remember hanging there and seeing the faces all around me, just staring. A little girl from the local village where we were filming just cried and cried. They all would have loved to help me somehow. But it was something I had to go through alone.
I thought of Jesus looking out and seeing His mother, John, and others. As much as they loved Him, there was no way they could understand His motivations that day. As much as they’d have loved to somehow help Him, it was something He had to do—alone.
Then came the moment of alone beyond alone. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). And you and I could be born again.
Today is a day to shed all our wanting and live as the Lord desires: thankful. We have the privilege of understanding Him as those who walked by His side never could, and our response can be nothing other than to fall on our faces in profound gratitude. Glory to Jesus!
by Bruce Marchiano