As you’re well aware, a major blockbuster of biblical proportions is coming to theaters nationwide today. It is a movie that will be seen by millions, and is sure to have lots of people talking.
But rather than talk about Liam Neeson’s action film “Nonstop,” I’d like to spend the next 500 or so words discussing the movie “Son of God.” There is plenty to say about the film, and plenty that has been said about the film, from tales of entire theaters filling up with mega-church parishioners to accusations of New Age themes and transcendentalism.
I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of the film yesterday, and there were definitely some positive things and some negative things about it.
On a negative note, within the first five minutes of the movie Jesus passed up an opportunity to walk on water. I get that He didn’t always walk on water, but when He stepped out and His sandaled foot penetrated the water, I was taken aback.
On a positive note, however, Jesus didn’t look awkward when He smiled. That puts this movie head and shoulders above most theatrical renditions.
Also, about fifteen minutes into the movie, my wife leaned over and whispered, “Jesus looks like Ashton Kutcher.” I guess that’s a positive…?
Other things I liked about the movie:
- Jesus was really good at guessing people’s first names.
- Everyone spoke English, just like King James intended.
- To compete with Michael Bay’s upcoming summer blockbusters, the director included tons of solar flares.
- It looked like the temple guards stole their hats from the cast of the movie “Epic.”
- Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by who I can only guess was the lead singer of Counting Crows.
- Vin Diesel also had a cameo as Barabbas.
- In one of the many extra-biblical lines from the film, the High Priest said of Jesus, “This is a dangerous man,” to which I audibly responded, “You’ve got that right!”
- When Judas betrayed Jesus, the woman next to me went, “mmm hmm!” (not technically a part of the film, but I liked it nonetheless).
- The High Priest also had flawless hair.
- And finally, when Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery, He actually remembered to say, “Go and sin no more”; that part always gets left out of the story, so I appreciated it being included.
However, there were also some parts that I didn’t care for:
- For one, the last supper looked nothing like the Da Vinci painting.
- Also, Jesus looked genuinely surprised every single time one of His miracles actually worked.
- Thomas also did a lot of doubting throughout the movie, not just at the end. It was to the point that I thought maybe he would end up betraying Jesus rather than Judas.
- On the topic of disciples, Bartholomew didn’t get nearly enough face time. I get that he didn’t get much attention in the source material either, but the movie did add quite a few things to the story, and in my opinion, Bartholomew should have been one of them.
And the final thing, the thing that will probably have many Christians up in arms: Not once in the film did Jesus ever make an exclusive claim to salvation.
He alluded to it a couple of times. He even got really close toward the end. At the last supper, he said to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” But then He abruptly stopped without finishing it: “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
Christianity’s exclusive claim to salvation is paramount to the gospel message. If every road really does lead to heaven, as Oprah and Yoda would have you believe, then Jesus’ sacrifice was for nothing, and our faith and preaching is in vain. It is precisely because no roads could bring us to God that Jesus had to come to the earth, live as a man, die for my sins and your sins and the sins of all the world, and then rise from the grave, triumphant over death.
And yet, even though this fundamental truth was clearly and intentionally omitted from the film, I still recommend that all of you support the movie. You see, it isn’t Hollywood’s job to preach the gospel. It is their job to tell stories. And they told the story of Jesus, the compassionate, friendly, divisive, miracle-working, gospel-preaching, lost-reaching Son of God.
It’s easy to talk about all of the places where they missed it. And there are definitely a few. But they also got a lot of things right. Jesus was portrayed as the Son of God, the Messiah sent to redeem mankind from sin and spiritual death. And we are told repeatedly that it is through faith in this Jesus that we can be saved.
The movie will function as a great platform for you and me to spread the gospel message. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature,” as the film reminds us in the final scene.
So see the film. Encourage your friends to see it as well. And after you have watched it, you should all sit down together, break some bread, and discuss, discuss, discuss. Because it’s not Hollywood’s job to get them saved. It’s your job to introduce them to the Son of God.
[ your turn: What did you think of the flick? Is it worth seeing, or should we all see “The Lego Movie”… again? ]