It’s unfortunate but unsurprising that The Last Temptation of Christ met with so much controversy when it was released. The dual nature of Jesus raises a lot of difficult questions, and any honest attempt to answer them is bound to upset someone. For Christians, though, to be human is to sin; why shouldn’t someone who is both God and man sin in proportion to his divinity? Is it really so wrong to imagine a reluctant son of God attempting to anger his father by carving crucifixes for the Romans?
Although the film indulges in plenty of extrabiblical speculation, it also presumes the truth of Christianity’s most central beliefs. In particular, it never challenges the notion that Jesus was God made flesh. That notion is central to the film’s premise that Jesus must have struggled terribly between the secular and the sacred, and that his struggle, and its effect on his mission, is worth exploring.