The gospels make it clear Jesus does not start out acting as the Atonement. Instead, He grabs our hearts as the Son of the Father and the Light of the World. He cures the deaf and makes a crippled man walk. Even those born blind can see after an experience of the Christ. We meet this great heart before we see it broken.
Nevertheless, right away as the film begins, Gibson has Jesus reduced to a figure abased in atonement before a God who demands blood and death in order to ransom sinners. I’m not saying Gibson is wrong to paint Christ as suffering servant. It’s just that he seems to miss the warm missionary aspect of the Christ’s message. The token nod to the Resurrection forgets to include what raising up means for a fallen world.
The Christ suffers and dies for us but, as St. Paul says, if the resurrection has no meaning, then we should be pitied for we are still in our sins. Gibson’s drama is all bad news while the gospel itself speaks of good news.
Substitutionary atonement or exemplary atonement? Neither explanation satisfies the human heart awed by the simple elegance of the gospel stories of the passion and death of the Christ.
We become one with Him as resurrected when he show us his hands and his side. The passion of the Christ is over, then and our salvation dawns on us when we meet Him in the breaking of the bread.