Netflix Movie Review: Gospel of John

December 5, 2014

During the Christmas season, I am reminded of the reason we celebrate this very special holiday. It's no ordinary holiday, mind you. We are blessed with the opportunity to honor the birth of Christ! People may fuss about whether or not to do Santa with their kids, or say that it's just a pagan holiday and it didn't begin as a celebration about Jesus. I'm not focused on such things because it gets in the way of God's story. In fact, keeping baby Jesus in the manger even misses the point. Yes, it's important to know how he arrived on Earth, but let's not keep him there. Let's remember WHY he came. Just released on Netflix is The Gospel of John. Taking the biblical text word-for-word, this film provides a excellent visual of the scripture in action. Please join me as I take a closer look at this new movie.

With plans to release the other three gospel accounts, The Lumo Project produced these films in three formats: King James, New International Version, and in Spanish. Whether you're seeking spiritual guidance, leading a bible study group, teaching your children about Jesus, or just curious, you will gain insight from hearing the scripture in its full context, uninterrupted. Here's a brief description:

ABOUT THE MOVIE

The Gospel of John takes the story of Jesus from John’s gospel with its own unique characteristics. For John, Jesus is the Word of God made human. John is clear that that when encounter Jesus, we encounter God. The gospel writer points to the miracles (the ‘Signs’) and teachings as evidence of Jesus’ special relationship as the divine Son of God.

This full-length feature film about the life of Jesus takes the actual Gospel text as its script, word for word, unedited. Five years in the making, this epic production has been critically acclaimed by leading religious scholars as a unique and highly authentic telling of the Jesus story. Narrated by leading British actor David Harewood, it is based on the latest theological, historical and archaeological research. With specially constructed sets and the extraordinarily authentic villages and countryside of rural Morocco, it immerses the viewer in the world of first century Palestine.

When I began watching, the very first thing that jumped out at me was the Jesus character. Typically, we see Jesus as a lean, relatively small in stature with blue or green eyes, almost always calm. However, in this film, the Jesus character was tall and bold, with a confident presence. He had brown eyes and somewhat curly hair. We don't know the exact particulars about Jesus's appearance, as it's not told to us in detail. It took a while to correct the stereotypical image in my head, reminding myself that it's about God's message.

As I continued to watch, I realized something huge...at least to me. The Pharisees were quite angered by Jesus on a regular basis. They literally followed him around finding things with which to fault him. Jesus was about his Father's business, while the Pharisees were about making appearances and enforcing man made rules. The film makes this point very well.

I did find a couple of interactions confusing. When the Jesus character turned water into wine, there was a moment of struggle for him. He briefly appeared distressed. This reaction occurred again when he healed the blind man, after placing mud over his eyes. Now, I want to emphasize that the Jesus "character" showed distress. I personally believe that the God who spoke everything into existence wouldn't have struggled with these things. The only reference I can recall about Jesus sensing something is in his interaction with a woman who needed healing. The other three gospels give an account of this situation. In Luke 8, the woman believed she would be healed simply by touching his garment. Jesus said (vs 46) that he knew power left him, however there is no indication that his body was stressed as a result.

I enjoyed watching the moments between Jesus and Nicodemus, as well as the Samaritan woman at the well. While he regularly had many people following him, Jesus took time with individuals -- meeting them where they are. What a wonderful example of how believers should be in reaching the lost. We need to invest in people to win them for Christ!

Remember I said that we shouldn't leave the baby Jesus in a manger? Jesus came to Earth to heal us. To rescue us. To save us. More than any other gospel, John details the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps because he had the closest relationship to him. Perhaps because he knew the importance of God's message. Without his death, our sin cannot be taken away. Without his burial, our sin cannot be forgotten. Without his resurrection, we cannot have eternal life with him in Heaven someday.

Overall, The Gospel of John is refreshingly simple. Literal text brought to life. The film had a beautiful setting, without the bells and whistles of Hollywood. No multi-million dollar computer generated imagery needed here. It's God's plan made plain for all to hear!

Please note: I was not compensated for this review of The Gospel of John. All opinion shared is solely my own.

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