4 STARS - INSPIRING
The fourth gospel describing the life of Jesus Christ is a study of how people respond to Jesus. The people who walked the dusty paths with Jesus were confronted not only with a love that was willing to go to any lengths to set them free, but with a purity that would not play the religious games or institutional demands of their day.. The people’s responses to Jesus differed. Some answered this call and followed him. Others increased in their animosity and finally conspired to kill him. Both are presented in powerful form by Philip Saville’s film, “The Gospel of John.”
Based on the true life of Jesus of Nazareth, the story of Jesus’ (Henry Ian Cusick) life does not begin with the Bethlehem birth told in Matthew and Luke, but with the introductory explanations of the beloved disciple John (Stuart Bunce) and the preaching of John the Baptist (Scott Handy). Explaining that Jesus is the eternal “logos” of ancient Greek philosophers, John explains that the “logos became flesh and dwelt among us.” John the Baptist prepares people for Jesus by telling them that “one far greater than me is coming.”
This idea that the “thought which created the universe”, the Greek Logos, could become a human being needed proof. What would this look like? How would he enlighten us?
To prove the case, John walks us through seven miracles that increasingly create the tension of belief and animosity among the people. The first miracle of changing the water to wine seems to be a premature revelation of his power forced by his mother Mary (Diana Berriman). But the seventh miracle, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, is clearly a deliberate example of his divine power and eternal purpose.
In addition to the seven miracles, John records eleven descriptions of Jesus in which he describes himself. Using the ancient name for God – “I Am” - as a repetitive beginning, Jesus explains to his disciples that “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the Resurrection and the life” and other illustrations.
The building tension comes to a head when the religious leaders decide that they must manipulate the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate (Steven Russell), to execute Jesus. Being under the occupation of Rome, they needed a Roman authority to execute a person.
Though Pilate explains that he can find nothing Jesus has done wrong to justify execution, he succumbs to the pressure placed on him and has Jesus beaten, crowned with thorns and hung on a cross till death. Dying quickly, Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb of a wealthy believer. It is there that the final proof of Jesus’ personhood is given when he rises from the dead and is seen multiple times by his believers.
The presentation of the life of Jesus in visual form is a powerful representation of events that has changed the course of human history. It is a story of unparalleled impact on all of us.
- When Jesus came to earth, he had to convince his own people that he is sent from his Father. Do you believe you would have accepted his claim if you had walked on the road beside him?
- When Jesus explains that his body and blood will be the food for our souls, many of his followers leave. Do you think you would have left as well? Why do you believe Jesus did not explain this in more easily understood terms?
- The opposition of the religious leaders was due in part to Jesus’ disdain for what they had done to desecrate the worship of God. How do you respond to Jesus picking up a whip and driving out the moneychangers and animal handlers outside the temple?
- When Jesus died on the cross, it is clear that his suffering was a part of his gift to us. Do you accept his death as a personal gift to you? How does this change the way you live?