Bryan Caplan went to see the film again, with my theory in mind. He came up with the following (spoilers beneath the fold)...
The Stations themselves are usually a series of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
Apoc: Jaguar Paw captured by cultists.
2. Jesus receives the cross
Apoc: JP tied to slave line.
3. The first fall
Apoc: First fall (guy forced to rise without help)
4. Jesus meets His Mother
Apoc: Testicle-eater sees his mother-in-law?
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
Group saves wounded guy at end of slave line.
6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil
7. The second fall
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
Mayan women laugh at the guys getting painted blue.
9. The third fall
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
Brought up to top of pyramid.
12. Jesus dies on the cross
Eclipse saves JP.
13. Jesus’ body removed from the cross (Pieta)
JP sent back down the pyramid.
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb
Overall, amazing parallelism.
And then in a later email:
…Jaguar Paw definitely returns to save his wife and sons on the third
Right on. But for the last few Stations, I see a deliberate non-parallel with the Christian story. I view the film as concerned with Islam as much as the Mayans. It replays the (supposed) Islamic "myth" that Jesus climbed down off the cross, saved by a miracle, and joined his wife and kid to live in India (to complicate matters, only a minority of Muslims believe this, but many quasi-informed Christians think this is a very common Muslim view). Gibson’s movie is saying "OK, let’s say that happened. Jaguar Paw makes a miraculous escape. But earthly triumph is still no means of salvation and it cannot replace the Christian notion of sacrifice; you can run but you can’t hide. The plague is coming. The Spanish ships are coming. God is coming. We must throw ourselves on God’s mercy. Islam is no good, salvation lies only in Christ."
I also wonder if all that throat-slitting was not a reference to Daniel Pearl and various jihad-based webcam assassinations.
Pretty intense vision. Gibson is repugnant, and his approach is distant from my own worldview, but I am still thinking about his splendid movie.