Last Saturday, I took my wife to see the Son of God movie. I had been hearing reports both good and bad about the movie. Some people were calling it “heroic” while others were calling it “heretical.” As a pastor leading over one thousand people in our local church, I felt the responsibility to go and see this movie for myself. I did not want to speak out about the movie without seeing it first. Also, this last week, I have been overwhelmed by people asking me my take on this movie. Should they go see it or not? They have heard about how the producers of the movie (i.e. Roma Downey) are new agers and wonder if they should support the movie because the producers seem off theologically. Let me just say this about that last stream of logic: “If we avoided watching any media because people who produced the media had different beliefs then us, then we would have to cease watching 99% of media.” I think it is ironic how people will avoid watching a movie like “Son of God” because the producers are new agers, but those same people will sit at home and watch a show on television that portrays unbiblical values without having a problem with it. At least be consistent! I personally believe that God can and does work through flawed people to get his message across. An example of this is Mel Gibson with the “Passion” movie.
Because there is so much confusion surrounding this movie, I feel like I should let you know some facts about the movie. These are not opinions, as many of the critics of the movie have displayed in their articles. I am simply giving you the facts.
Fact #1: Jesus states clearly Who He is several times throughout the movie. I have heard from several critics that this movie does not portray Jesus as the Son of God, but as some other kind of Jesus that is an imposter of the real one. But if that is the case, then why did the movie portray Jesus saying these things about himself:
“I am the resurrection” (John 11:25).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
We are told to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-3). A false spirit would not portray Jesus as the way to heaven. A false spirit would try to confuse people about who Jesus is, but in the movie, Jesus clearly states who He is. I might not agree with every detail about the movie, but when I heard Jesus repeatedly telling the audience who He was, this helped my spirit rest and know that God’s Word is being spread in this movie theater.
Fact #2: The movie simultaneously connected the Jewish Passover in the Temple with Jesus’ death on the cross at Golgotha. For me, this was my favorite part of the movie. Whoever wrote this scene had done not just their homework, but their extra credit. This is an often overlooked part of “Good Friday” for Christians. We focus on the cross of Jesus, and yet fail to connect how Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy that He was the Passover lamb. The movie brilliantly showed a scene where a priest was holding a lamb in the temple and slit its throat and then at the same time showed Jesus on the cross. This is God’s story being fulfilled! The Passover lamb which saved the Hebrews from the angel of death and from Pharaoh came to complete fulfillment almost fifteen hundred years later in the death of Jesus Christ.
Fact #3: Jesus forgives sin while he heals a lame man in the movie. Another powerful scene occurred when Jesus was teaching and was suddenly interrupted by men who brought their friend to Him who couldn’t walk. Jesus looked at the man and said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Jesus was confronted about this statement by the religious leaders because only God can forgive sins. A religious leader even called Jesus a blasphemer in that same scene. Once again, the movie clearly portrays Jesus as God who has the ability to forgive people from their sins.
Fact #4: The movie accurately displays Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is the gospel message according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. When I watched the movie, I witnessed Jesus suffer by being mocked, flogged, and crucified. I hated watching this, but I need to be reminded of what Jesus did for me on the cross. He gave us his life so that I might be able to have eternal life. As a Christian, we realize that it is not just Jesus’ death that saves us from our sin, it is His resurrection which gives Him the power over sin and death. The movie beautifully displayed how one moment the apostles were discouraged, not knowing what to do, but then after they see the empty tomb and then the resurrected Jesus, they are ready to die for the new found faith that has now so mightily gripped them to the core of their being. The movie even stated how all the apostles (except John) died for their faith in Jesus Christ later on as they were spreading the message of the gospel.
Fact #5: The movie makes some assumptions from Scripture that I wouldn’t, and that sharpened me to know what I believe. This movie was not word for word from any of the gospels. That was not the intent. I have the videos from the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew. I can relax when I watch them because it is literally the Bible being read to me as I watch it. We have to remember that whenever we watch a movie based on past events, there will be some details presented where we are not sure whether we should agree with it or not.
For example, the movie seemed to portray Mary Magdalene as one of the apostles. She traveled with Jesus and the apostles everywhere in the movie. Is this biblical? Yes and no. No, because she is not an apostle according to the Bible because the Bible only lists twelve men as apostles (and the movie never states that she is either; it at most implies it). Yes, because it appears that Mary Magdalene and other women traveled with Jesus “helping to support them” (read Luke 8:1-3). Also, John’s account of the resurrection focuses on Mary Magdalene (John 20:1). Mary Magdalene had a role in the ministry with Jesus, but was it as significant as the movie suggested? Probably not, but we have to admit that Scripture makes clear that Mary Magdalene ministered along with the other apostles. This brings up another point of how all four of our gospels focus on different events from Jesus’ life and different sayings of Jesus and some of the details are different. The gospels do this because they are trying to reach a different audience. Some of the audiences are Gentiles while other ones are Jewish. Some of the audiences believe in many gods while others believe in one. But the message remains the same! All four gospels present Jesus as the Son of God who came to save the people of the world from their sins.
I have also heard complaints concerning the scene depicting Jesus and Peter in the boat catching fish. Jesus tells Peter that they are going to “change the world.” Some of the critics of the movie don’t like that phrasing. They say it is not biblical. At first, I thought it was a weird way to tell Peter that they were going to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, but after thinking about it, changing the world is exactly what Jesus came to do. He brought a new covenant to this planet while He was here, and that new covenant would change millions of individual lives. I should know, because I am one of those people who have been “changed” by the message of Jesus!
So, the big question: “Would I recommend that you go and see this movie?” The answer is: “Absolutely!” This would be a great movie to take a friend to who doesn’t know who Jesus Christ is personally. Take them to this movie and have dinner or coffee with them afterwards. Start the discussion. Remember, it could change their world!