*The movie “The Son of God” is the first time the story of Jesus has been on the big screen in about 10 years since Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” “The Son of God” is a story of the mightiest power of heaven overcoming the mightiest power on earth. The Roman Empire was the most powerful and far-reaching kingdom the earth had seen up to that point. They were ruthless, intolerant, and loyal to their god, Caesar. Then along came Jesus introducing His kingdom in the midst of it all.His first appearance in the movie shows Jesus (played by Diogo Morgado) arriving on foot in the city reminiscent of David Carradine’s character in the ‘70’s TV series “Kung Fu.” After performing the miracle of the fish for Peter, he begins putting together his team of disciples. From there we begin to see what producers Roma Downey (who plays as mother Mary) and her husband Mark Burnett have in mind to show the human frailties and flaws of the characters – Jesus being the only flawless one. From that point on, even though the movie was over two hours long, it moved like a slide show leaving out a lot of significant details like how it came to be that Mary Magdalene seemed to follow every step of the way along with the disciples.
In an interview Downey said that she believes in the power of prayer and that she prays about everything, but we did not see Jesus doing much of that in the movie as scripture said he did. For instance when Lazarus was sick then died, there was no mention that Jesus deliberately delayed his coming in order to grasp the opportunity to show the power of God to the people. The Bible says he prayed out loud to the Father before he called Lazarus forth from the tomb [John 11: 41, 42 KJV].
Then there was the scene where as Jesus was walking on water he called out to Peter, but scripture says Peter first called out to him from the boat. One lesson to draw from this is that in times of trouble if we call out to Jesus, he will answer; a missed opportunity to teach those who do not read scripture for themselves. The scene of the woman caught in adultery was also inaccurate – Jesus did not pose as if he were going to stone the woman himself to make his point.
After Jesus was arrested, the scourge (lashing) was ordered by Pontius Pilate to try and get a confession from Jesus on the charge of blasphemy. When that did not happen even Pilate became anguished and began to fear – scripture reads that he said twice “I find no fault in him.” [John 19: 4-9 KJV]. I think that line would have been more impactful in the movie. Scripture reads that Jesus assured Pilate that he did not condemn him, but rather those who delivered him (Jesus) into his hands.
I bring out these points against the seeming presumptions made that the audience knows the stories when in fact many don’t. Otherwise I love the cinematography, the lighting (especially for the night scenes), and the clarity of the dialog. All of the character performances were real and believable. The scene where Jesus was reaching for his cross and when he grabbed it, he clung to it and kissed it – was so moving and symbolic of what God requires of us today. There is still much to learn from the film about power structure, tradition, and many things that exist even today that cause people to deny Christ.
The last thing I’d like to address is the so-called boycott of the movie because Jesus is depicted as a white man. I’m sure Downey particularly was sensitive to that in their selection from her experience with Della Reese in “Touched by an Angel.” Remember the episode where her character Monica played a black woman, and as she was being chased by some white racists, she called out to God “I want to be white…!”? I don’t think she could have played that role if she’d had a racist attitude, so please do not let that be a factor in your decision to go see the film. We all know the truth: During his 1973 South African Crusade, even Evangelist Billy Graham preached that Jesus was not a white man based upon the geographic location of his birth.