Jim Caviezel on playing Jesus in the 'Passion of the Christ': 'I saw God'

"Jim Caviezel in May 2012 (cropped)" by Genevieve - Jim Caviezel at Flickr.com.

"Passion of the Christ" star Jim Caviezel opened up in a recent interview regarding his experience playing Jesus in the epic film.

The Mel Gibson-directed blockbuster was nominated for three Academy Awards when it was released in 2004, and grossed over $600 million. However, Caviezel revealed that there was nothing glamorous about the role.

The 45-year-old actor described his experience on set while speaking to the congregation at the Rock Church in San Diego on Sunday, WND reports.

"The whip went over, and I had a 14-inch gash on my back," he said of a physically-challenging whipping scene. "I went right down like in a football game when you get the wind knocked out of you. I saw God."

The walk up Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was crucified, was also emotionally-challenging for Caviezel.

"I felt this evil presence come over me," he said. "'You're a dead man.' I remember thinking this is the best news I've ever had, because I know if I die I'm going to heaven."

Caviezel also revealed that he was struck by lightning while he was hanging on the cross.

"What people witnessed was an illumination around my body and a fire on the right and left side of my head," he stated. "And for one moment I was looking at myself from outside my body.

"When I was hit, everybody fell on their face.

"The ground shook and that was the last shot of the movie."

During his speech at the Rock Church, Caviezel encouraged people to give their lives to Christ.

"You have to take Jesus Christ into your life every day," he insisted. "He's the one that encourages you to fast, to not just pray once a week. The Gospel is real! It's not something you just put away."

He also called on those who have had or paid for an abortion to repent.

"Many people are a part of this great sin in this country," Caviezel said. "These are all God's children and he brings them home. Now he wants to bring you home.

"Do you think your friend has more grace than God? Does your friend have more love than the Creator? It can never be. God forgives you and now he needs you to begin, to accept forgiveness."

Caviezel is one of the voice actors narrating the "Word of Promise" New Testament audio Bible, available in most major retail and digital outlets.