PERSONAL REVIEW OF SEQUEL TO "PASSION OF THE CHRIST"
After taking a week between seeing the movie RISEN and writing this, what may be considered, a kind of review on it, I think it is even more relevant to mention the importance of even the most diehard skeptic, of seeing this movie. One of the final scenes of RISEN really drove that point home to me, with a solid punch, to where even a Christian with questions can get it.
Despite what those who killed Jesus Christ on 14 Nisan 33 AD say, Jesus did rise from the dead. Graves were open and He was seen by 500 people – and James. There is even secular evidence, via the great historian Josephus, who was commissioned by Rome to write the history of the Jewish people.
Josephus wrote in Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared”.
RISEN is the natural progression of the narrative of the Resurrection and the harsh reality of life in post- Crucifixion Jerusalem. For the many followers of the Way (Jesus followers), there was fear and hiding but for the religious and corrupt there was genuine panic. When the entire city knew that the Body had disappeared, both persecuting parties – the Romans and the Religious rabble – had “skin in the game” to cover up their crimes. After all, the Pharisees and Sanhedrin had conducted six illegal trials in less than 24 hours against the Judge of the Universe!
To this day, non-believers, academics and assorted ones like that, spread the same fallacies about the Death and Resurrection of the Risen Christ that the same religious authorities of Jerusalem and their Roman partners-in-crime did in 33 AD! As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes – there is nothing new under the sun. The Resurrection was fact. Roman records were as diligent as those that the Nazis used to their own detriment at the Nuremberg trials. Roman records were used by historian Dugard and Bill O’Reilly in his book “Killing Jesus”, which was the biggest of his oddly titled bestsellers.
As one immersed in Biblical worldviews and apologetics as well as evangelism, the most stunning part of the entire movie RISEN for me was the brief conversation which the former Centurion Clavius (Ralph Fiennes) has with Jesus just before the Ascension. While this actual event is not recorded in Scripture, it is the gist of the matter for those who are seeking more than just a head knowledge of God through Christ.
“Jesus” in RISEN is asking Clavius, basically, what is that he is really really afraid of, and searching for…..and the final question is what spoke volumes of all the others “…is it peace”? This is the eternal quest of mankind – how to find that peace we claim. In the final analysis, that peace that passes ALL understanding can only be found in Christ, and through Christ. Clavius (the Fiennes’s Character) goes through the same doubts which many have in attempting to reason Faith in Jesus. To me, this is the most poignant moment of the Film as far as directing this film as a tool for Evangelism. Because Clavius also mentioned he was afraid of being wrong. This is an extremely serious thing. To make the wrong decision about Christ has absolute deadly consequences! The powerful acting, authentic locations and actual Jewish looking disciples brings the viewer into the entire experience, thereby helping to deliver this eternal question to spiritual seekers everywhere. The screenplay and production here were extremely well executed.
Finally, the Ascension scene itself was a really dynamic metaphor for me. Dynamic because it is like the aorist tense of the Biblical New Testament Greek language. The cinematic portrayal of the post-Ascension “nuclear-bomb-type” fallout spoke out loud, the following statement in my spirit “Jesus Christ is still blowing up the World today as He did almost 2000 years ago!
Many will find all sorts of Scripture errors or textual differences. They will be technically correct. For me, I do not get my theology from a movie. I look for inspiration which will spur thinking that the Holy Spirit can use in me, and through me, to help further the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth – for such a time as this. This is what found in the Christian hit movie of 2016 so far: RISEN!