The Passion Live is a re-imagining of the story of the last days of Jesus and his resurrection after his death. It featured popular music performed by Jencarlos Canela, Prince Royce, Trisha Yearwood, Chris Daughtry and Seal. The Passion was narrated and hosted by Tyler Perry and produced by Dick Clark Productions. It was based on a Dutch annual televised event.
I was very skeptical about The Passion Live and after viewing it, I’ve found my skepticism to be well-founded. While it promised to be scripturally accurate, it was not and was instead an ill-fitting mélange of pop songs, poorly performed, that failed to tell the story of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and his gift of salvation.
- Trisha Yearwood
I’m no fan of Trisha Yearwood, but I can typically acknowledge that while her signing isn’t my cup of tea, she’s a competent singer. Not so during The Passion Live. She sounded terrible, unstable and gave such poor renderings of songs such as (one of my personal favorites) “My Love is Your Love” that it was hard to believe she is a professional singer. They should have found an artist who has better range. Trisha clearly can’t sing well outside of pop/country. I really feel bad for a performer when I see them miscast so badly.
- What was the point of that big illuminated cross?
I still have no idea why they carried that cross through New Orleans. They didn’t really utilize it well and they seemed to use most of the time talking to people about New Orleans, strength, the military or gaining justice for crimes. Their “reporter” seemed to use any excuse to take the focus off of Jesus, redemption or forgiveness (keeping it general and brief at best) and point it toward worldlier, and less godly topics.
- There was much too large a focus on New Orleans.
I understand that they, unlike many cities, were the victim of a natural disaster, but I fail to see what their rebuilding has to do with Jesus? Why is it that people would assume that a city known for drinking, strip clubs, voodoo and Mardi Gras would be such a great place to hold this event? No city is perfect, but New Orleans has such strong ties to hedonism and paganism that I really question the use of the city for a “fitting backdrop.”
- Who picked these awful songs and think that represent the story well?
I have a long list of grievances with the music used because I find so MUCH of it go against Scripture. But the worst was the use of the song “Demons” and performed between the characters of “Judas” and “Jesus.” It is so incorrect, disrespectful and unbiblical that I’m still angry about it. The Passion Live actually has the “Jesus” character sing the words
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how
While in Scripture Jesus ACTUALLY said
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matthew 26:53-54
He didn’t need Judas to fix it. He didn’t need anyone to fix it. He knew what was happening and he allowed it to happen because it completed the Father’s plan to redeem all those who love and follow him. The amazing life, death and especially resurrection of our living Savior, Jesus Christ are so precious and the only source of true peace that I cannot commend any production that would misconstrue to people that Jesus could have stopped it but would not and did not because his love for us is that strong.
- Tyler Perry didn’t explain that Jesus is the only way
As a Christian I believe in that Scripture says in John 14:6 that the only way to spend an eternity in heaven with God, the only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus. If Tyler Perry professes to be a Christian and wants to share this story why would he tell people, no matter what you believe, let’s be nice to each other. That’s all well and good and we should all be nice to each other, but the point of sharing the story of the Passion is to draw people’s attention to Christ in the hopes that they will turn to him. Belief in Jesus blood as the only atonement for our sins and repenting of sin is the only way to salvation.
I have rarely been so disappointed with a work as I was with The Passion Live. It could have been a wonderful chance to tell people how much they need forgiveness and how they need to repent. However it’s all possible because Jesus. But, they threw it all away trying to appear “inclusive.” If we truly believe and forgiveness through Jesus is the only way to go to Heaven we don’t do people a favor by masking or dulling that point. People need Jesus, it’s as simple as that. I hate that in all the pride in a very brazen city and calculated, emotive yet unscriptural song choices that fact got last. “When the Saints Go Marching In” is a fun, happy song, but the only way anyone marches in with the saints is by faith and forgiveness in Jesus, otherwise you’re looking at a very bleak eternity when the saints go marching in.
Kari Liked: Nothing.
Kari Didn’t Like: It was the most impotent, worldly, disrespectful representation of “Scripture” that I’ve ever seen. I would not recommend watching or listening to The Passion Live.
This past week, Fox aired The Passion Live, a retelling of Jesus’ death and resurrection as told through popular music. Many people liked it. I did not. Here are just a few reasons why.
- It wasn’t actually live
This thing was marketed like crazy that it was LIVE. It was the second live event Fox was investing in after the success of Grease Live! It also wasn’t totally live. While Tyler Perry’s narration, some of the song performances, and the processional of the cross were live, most of the musical numbers were instead pre-produced music videos, and not live.
- The reporter during the processional
These segments seemed forced, and all had the point that you could have lots of reasons to be part of that processional with the light up cross that weren’t Jesus. Only one poor guy talked about Christ as being his reason for being there, but he was quickly cut off to focus on one of his sons, who was there to support his family (specifically his father). There should only be one reason to be in such a processional, because you love Jesus and want to celebrate what he did for us and his Lordship of your life.
- The lyrics didn’t work
I’m not someone who thinks that this shouldn’t have been done or can’t ever be done. I love bringing touches of modernity to worship. But it wasn’t done well here. The songs chosen wound up sounding totally not in keeping with the character of those who would sing them. Especially Jesus singing “Calling All Angels.” Luke 4 :10-12 (also mentioned in Matthew 4:5) the devil actually attempts to trick Jesus to call down angels to help him, because he has that power, but Jesus specifically rebukes him and does not.
- Seal’s performance
I liked Seal’s acting as Pontius Pilate. His performance felt different from who Seal is in real life, and his two songs, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and “Mad World” made the most sense for the character singing them of the whole night
- The whole message is wrong.
John 3:16 says “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Not “No matter what you believe, I think we can all agree to love our fellow man.” Tyler Perry proclaims the second message after saying he is a Christian and he believes all this happened. I can’t see into his heart, but Tyler Perry either did not create this piece for the right reason with the proper message in mind, or totally messed it up in execution. The point of the Passion IS Christ’s sacrifice and the hope for salvation. Before that there was nothing, and this is where the Gospel can most easily feel like the “good news” that the word means!
All in all, The Passion Live was bad, and I hope if someone ever tries to apply pop songs to the life of Jesus, they are much more careful with the outcome.
RJ Liked: Very little. Seal was probably the only thing
RJ Didn’t Like: Everything else.