Reviewed by: Paul T. Andersen
Year of Release:
RECOMMENDED VIDEO—“How Jesus Died: The Final 18 Hours”—A captivating presentation of the comprehensive medical, forensic and historical facts of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. More Info…Jesus: The Movie
This secular, made-for-TV mini-series is available on video and was originally broadcast by CBS in mid-May 2000 in the U.S. and during the Easter season in Australia. Better than most secular attempts to portray Jesus Christ’s life and ministry, this two part series dramatizes Christ’s early years with Mary and Joseph, and ends with a condensed summary of his ministry, his death and resurrection. Unfortunately, in an unnecessary attempt to make the story more interesting or filmic, the producers decided to mix fact with fiction. This is a dangerous thing to do when dealing with God’s Holy Word and some of the most important events in history. The resulting Jesus is not an accurate portrayal of the Jesus Christ of the Bible, although similar in many ways. The main emphasis is on the humanity of Jesus. This movie does not do as well with his true, divine character.
John 1:1-5 reveals that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, was the Creator of the universe. He existed before the elements. He created Adam from dust. The real Jesus said, “I Am,” and people fell to the ground knowing what those unique words meant.
Christ’s divinity is obscured in this film, if not subtly denied. Although the producers attempt to portray the life of Christ, they avoid presenting all the necessary elements of the Gospel. This fictionalized Jesus appears to die to prove God’s love, not to take the punishment for our sins and to provide the only door to salvation.
This made-for-TV Jesus doesn’t quite understand who he is or what he is supposed to do until near the end. His death is amazingly quick, while the real Jesus died a horrifying and excruciating death over many hours. When confronted by a Gentile woman begging for his help, this fictional Jesus changes his mind and says “this woman has taught me that my message is for the Gentiles, too.” He has a romantic interest in Mary (sister of Martha) and considers marrying her. He has no siblings (a nod to the Catholic church which teaches that his mother Mary was a perpetual virgin; the real Jesus had brothers). He is baptized by John the Baptist in ankle deep water by sprinkling, rather than immersion. The crippled man he heals has to be helped to walk afterwards because his atrophied muscles are weak and painful. When the real Jesus healed people, the healing was complete and they danced for joy.
Except for two short scenes, this film is quite morally clean, and promotes love, self-sacrifice and trust in God. The exception is when the prostitute Mary Magdalene is unnecessarily shown nude and implied to be in the act of sex (at one point shown standing fully nude from the side). It is also unfortunate that Jacqueline Bisset who plays a very prominent role in this film (as Mary the mother of Jesus), starred just a few weeks earlier in a made-for-TV movie called “Sex and Mrs. X”.
Jesus is depicted as generally scruffy in appearance, but very likeable and attractive to people. Two interesting, partially-fictional scenes attempt to show how Satan may have tempted Jesus. These scenes are fairly credible and insightful.
Although this movie has good elements, we don’t recommend it. A better choice is the film “Jesus” distributed by Campus Crusade (The Jesus Project). Its words are taken line for line from Luke’s Gospel and painstaking attention to biblical and historical accuracy. More info…