Mel Gibson tells Colbert 'The Resurrection' could feature Jesus in Hell

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Actor Jim Caviezel portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson's film 'The Passion of The Christ,' a 2004 drama about the life and ministry of the Christ as well as his trial, crucifixion and resurrection. | Screen capture from the movie Passion

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – When Mel Gibson first screened The Passion of the Christ for test audiences more than 12 years ago, Christians who knew the story of Jesus shared one criticism more than others: they wanted to see more of the triumphal resurrection of the crucified, dead, and buried Christ.

The resurrection scene in the film lasted for only one minute of the 125 minute-long film, which depicted Jesus's agony in the garden, His courtyard scourging and His tortuous climb to Golgotha where He was nailed to a Roman cross.

Now, Gibson, who recently confirmed he is actively working on a sequel to The Passion of the Christ, called The Resurrection, said the new film may have a scene in it sure to shock viewers who are unfamiliar with the Bible.

Gibson told CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert Nov. 2 that it could possibly show Jesus in Hell.

"I'm not sure, but its worth thinking about, isn't it?" Gibson said. "Sort of gets the imagination going."

There are several verses in the Bible which address directly what many have interpreted as Jesus's descent into Hell to set free its captives (Acts 2:24, Ephesians 4:9, 1 Peter 3:9). There are also others in the Old Testament that could possibly allude to such a then future event undertaken by God's Messiah (Zechariah 9:11, Hosea 13:14).

The early church also made Jesus's descent into Hell a key part of its first doctrinal confessions, according to some scholars. The Apostles' Creed makes reference to Jesus descending into Hell (interpreting 1 Peter 3:9), but the phrase is not in the earliest existing copy of the creed – that of Bishop Marcellus of Ancyra from around A.D. 337.

In his conversation with Colbert, Gibson may have just been "spitballing" – pondering the possibilities because the subject is so large and complex. The director, who is releasing his latest film, Hackshaw Ridge, Nov. 4, said the resurrection event is "the beginning" of a larger story.

"It's more than a single event. It's an amazing event and to underpin that with the things around it is really the story," the Academy Award winning director said. "To enlighten what that means. It's not just about the event; it's not some kind of chronological telling of just that event. That could be boring; you'd think, 'Oh, well, we read that [in the Bible].'"

Colbert then said he didn't think the telling of the story of the resurrected Son of God would be a "snoozer."

Gibson agreed, but said telling the events in a simple chronological order would be "predictable." And predictability is an enemy of any film.

Colbert asked if Thomas would be the enemy in the film because of his doubt about the resurrection. Gibson said he would not.

"They [the enemies] are in another realm," Gibson said, smiling through his bushy beard. "Sure, you're going all over the place. What happened in three days?"

Whatever story line Gibson takes, the film is sure to do well. The Passion of the Christ starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus received three Oscar nominations and grossed $600 million worldwide. There is no word yet if Jim Caviezel is planning to reprise his role.