I have a love/hate relationship with Bible based movies. I love that they help us picture the holy land and people and events of the Bible better. But I hate it when they mess with the stories in order to make them more “dramatic;” adding, deleting, or rewriting things to suit themselves. You have to laugh at The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston and his steamy Hollywood scenes with Anne Baxter. His portrayal of Moses as a buff eighty year old rescuing the Israelites from slavery is a little farfetched.

However, very good things have come about through the biblical movies over the years. Like many of you, Kelly and I have been watching The Bible on television, leading up to the final installment on Easter tomorrow. He says I’m no fun to watch with, because I point out every detail that’s not correct. I’m trying to contain myself, really I am, but it’s just that the truth is so much better than some of the stuff they come up with.

I have to say, however, that so far I like this portrayal of Jesus better than any other I’ve seen. I feel like he captures the essence of Jesus’ character most completely. In Jesus of Nazareth, they did a fabulous job presenting the people’s reactions to Him, and what it must have been like to see Jesus in person. But Jesus himself looked wimpy and depressingly holy.

The Passion did a great job depicting the suffering Jesus endured in gory and graphic detail, but that Jesus also seemed distant and unreachable. Not what I picture when I read scripture.

Bruce Marchiano’s depiction of Jesus as a man of joy in the book of Matthew of the Visual Bible, is wonderful. He is winsome, happy, and tender. But is a little kissy and seems a little boyish to me.

So far, the Jesus in this newest movie comes across as strong, joyful, compassionate, and yet zealous for God’s will to be done. He reaches out to the desperate and needy, breaking down social and physical barriers and building connections between God and people. He doesn’t pander to those in power – spiritual or political. Yet, there are still details that will not be quite right.

I know I’m not the only one picking apart every new movie that comes out. Why then do we want them to keep trying to flesh this out for us? Because like so many who flocked to Him during His three years of earthly ministry, we want to see this Jesus. We want to look into His eyes and feel His love for us. We want to know Him in every intimate detail. And even if it’s not exactly right in every detail, we hold in our hearts every morsel that helps us know Him better.

The more I read the Bible, the more I feel like I can see Jesus with the eyes of my heart. I don’t know the color of His hair and eyes, or the smell of His skin, yet I know the sound of His voice when He speaks to me. I don’t know the feel of His touch on my skin, but I know the pull of His spirit when He directs me.

I pray that this Easter and every day after, that you will get a better and better picture of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. His story is true and because He lives we have reason to celebrate. Happy Easter everyone!  

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