Which Jesus is the real one? Every time I go see another Jesus movie, I am faced with a new version of the Son of God, and I have to ask myself, which is the best? Which is closest to the real thing, and more importantly, why are they all so different?
All of these films show us Jesus through the eyes of a certain time and place. Though they have the same subject and similar plot every decision, every casting, every word in the screenplay is made by people who have a particular understanding of Jesus. From the pacifist Jesus in the 1961 King of Kings to the Hippie Jesus in Godspell, we see much more than Jesus, we see how Jesus looks to the creative hearts of the writers, directors, and actors.
The first talking american film that focused on Jesus as the primary character and story was produced in 1961. Directed by Samuel Bronson, King of Kings tells the story by expanding the roles of four of the supporting characters in the Gospel. Through the Roman soldier who saw Jesus die on the cross (here names Lucius), Barrabbas (the Jewish prisoner released by Pilate), Judas (the disciple who betrays Jesus), and Mary (mother of Jesus), we see a messiah of peace and love who lives much closer to the side of pacifism than the oppressive political environment portrayed by the setting in a Roman-ruled province.
It is a fascinating and incredibly entertaining depiction of this powerful story that everyone should have the pleasure of seeing and it is the first film in the line up for the Imago Dei Film Festival we are hosting at our church.
Whether or not you live in Mobile and can come watch movies with us, looking at these films is important. It's important because through these films we not only get to explore the story of Jesus but see how far too often we re-make Jesus in our own image so that he fits comfortably in our life. We discover parts of Jesus' story we have forgotten along the way in the service of our own re-make.
Maybe after looking at Jesus through so many different lenses, we might be able to get a good idea of who the real Jesus is and how he is challenging us to live in our world.
Question for the Comments: What Jesus Movie is Your Favorite?
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