For quite some time, various members of the religious community have urged churchgoers to support films geared for those of the faith community. One such movie making headlines as of late is “Son of God” based on Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s 10 hour mini-series, “The Bible.” Prior to watching this epic motion picture, I read reviews posted by Christians concerned by the diminished message of the gospel. Wanting to make this determination on my own, I loaded up a group of teenagers from Church and saw the bible based feature last night.
I noticed right away that the writers of the film exercised artistic license to fill in some of the gaps, behind the scene events that could have happened the way they speculated…That aspect was expected. However, it bothered me when the writers changed the account as described in the Biblical text. For instance, in the scene with Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, the movie depiction shows Jesus entering the tomb where Lazarus’ body lay. From inside the hollowed out grave, viewers watch as Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus walks out of the tomb to the astonishment of family and friends. However, in the Bible account, Jesus stands outside the tomb and commands, “Lazarus come forth.” Lazarus waddles out, or so I speculate, because the Scriptures inform Lazarus walked out bound, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus orders spectators to “take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Call me a stickler, but the artistic license utilized pales in comparison to the reality of the actual event.
The writers also took liberty with at least two very important statements Jesus made in His earthly ministry. First, the dialogue writers clipped a very important part of John 14:6. In the “Son of God,” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And even though they quoted Christ accurately, they omitted the most important part of that statement. The Bible reveals in the same breath Jesus said, “No man comes to the Father but by me.” Christians familiar with the Biblical text can fill in the blank, but people with little knowledge of the Scriptures won’t be challenged to investigate Christ’s claim of being the only bridge between God and man. I imagine the writers feared a backlash from other religious groups who claim Christianity is intolerant of other belief systems. No matter the reasoning, leaving off the vital portion of Jesus’ quote is a disservice to people without a personal relationship with Christ.
Secondly, when the “Son of God” actor quoted John 3:16, he neglected to insert “shall not perish.” Once again I can only speculate the producers didn’t want moviegoers to think that they would experience a spiritual death apart from a relationship with Christ, even though that’s the reality.
On two occasions in the movie Jesus addresses the sin nature in people’s lives. The first being the paralytic lowered through a thatched roof to the feet of Jesus by four men; the other being the woman caught in adultery. In both instances, the “Son of God” shares the good news their sins are forgiven. That’s the reason Christ came. But that message loses steam the closer Christ gets to the Cross. In fact, a moviegoer unversed in the Gospel accounts might believe the authorities executed Jesus to curb the Messianic fervor of His followers and prevent Pilate from shuttering the Temple doors to the raucous Jesus sympathizers gathered for a Jewish Festival. Granted, the Jewish leaders failed to see in Jesus His Messianic reality and saw Christ as nothing more than a rabble rouser and blasphemer worthy of death, but Jesus didn’t bear the agony of the cross because of any wrong He committed or to keep the Temple doors open during Passover. Jesus bore the cross as a perfect sacrifice for the sin of mankind.
For the movie critics who say, “It’s not worth your time.” I disagree. The teenagers I escorted sat glued to the screen for over 2 hours. Each offered favorable feedback once the lights came back on. In other words, support those endeavoring to shine a “light” in the movie industry. It’s desperately needed. However, if you invite unbelievers, read up on the Gospel account of John and be prepared to discuss the movie’s handling of the Biblical text. Stand ready to answer any questions triggered by the film’s portrayal and be equipped to fill in any gaps.
Jesus Rises from the Dead!