“If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:33)
Lately I’ve noticed how the mass media often “likes” to tell us time and time again that Jesus is just a man and definitely not divine. Of course usually they “remind” us of this usually during Easter time. Being a movie buff myself (I watch about 100 movies a year on average), I want to discuss the ways pop culture wants to make Jesus into jsut a man through the moving picture. But I also want to offer a glimmer of hope that can be seen in those movies.
Jesus is the central character in at least two infamous movies. In Norman Jewison’s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1973), Jesus was depicted as a coward while Judas was depicted as the strongest and most determined disciple. Mary had a love relationship with Jesus. In the famous song “I Don’t Know How To Love Him,” Mary sang “I don’t know how to love him / I don’t know why he moves me / He’s a man, he’s just a man / And I’ve had so many men before, in very many ways, he’s just one more.” In Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988), Jesus was again a coward, and Satan was his guardian angel. Jesus hallucinated while hung on the cross and thought he escpaed and went on to live a normal life.
Both of these movies ended in Jesus’ death and has no mention of Jesus’ resurrection. While both of these movies offered bent versions of the gospel and of who Jesus is, I think there are at least some honest elements in them. For example, in one scene in “Jesus Christ Superstar”, after a miracle Jesus performed, the crowd questioned “How did he do that?”, and I think it is a question that people can’t resolve either. These movies are actually a good discussion starter about who Jesus really is.
I actually am more concerned about other more subtle reductions of Jesus in the movies. In the movie “Millions” (2004) which is targeted toward kids, in one scene the Apostle Peter appeared to the main character and explained that the feeding of 5000 was possible because everyone was unwilling to share the food they brought, but when the kid offered JEsus five loaves and two fish, everyone took out their lunch and ate it. In the Oscar-nominated “Chocolat” (2000), the young pastor preached an Easter sermon saying, “Today I don’t want to talk about Jesus’ transformation, but I want to focus on his humanity, how he loves people and tolerates differences…” and again reducing Jesus to a human, and avoiding the word “resurrection” by substituting in the word “transformation.”
Fortunately, Jesus is not always under attack. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (2004) is familiar to us as a powerful depiction of Jesus with a wonderful scene about resurrection. In “Chronicles of Naria” (2005), the lion is the Christ figure, and the scene in which he was beaten and abused and killed really really touched me, and it has a scene in which the lion was resurrected.
In the Easter season, I want to let everyone know that Christ is risen, and he’s definitely more than just a man.