Son of God Review

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

The Son of God movie released in 2014 is essentially "The Life of Christ" section of The Bible TV mini-series that aired on the History Channel in 2013. Having watched the TV mini-series, I did not see anything in the movie I did not remember seeing in the TV mini-series. Numerous scenes that were in the TV mini-series were cut or shortened for the movie, however, likely to keep the movie at a reasonable length.

Overall, I enjoyed Son of God. It is a reasonably accurate portrayal of the life of Christ. The actors did a good job. The cinematography is excellent. The musical score is enjoyable and fits the scenes well. I especially enjoyed that virtually everything the actor portraying Jesus says is a direct quote from Jesus in the Bible, although many of the quotes are not in the same context as recorded in the Bible.

I did not care for some of the "artistic license" taken, especially the times when the "artistic license" resulted in the movie contradicting the Bible. Here are some of the items I noticed:

The Magi

In retelling the story of Jesus' birth, a common mistake is having the Magi visit at the same time as the shepherds. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi likely arrived days or years later (Matthew 2:1-12).

Mary of Bethany

In many of the disciples' scenes, Mary of Bethany is shown to be among them. Son of God seemingly portrays her as one of the disciples. Now, it is entirely possible that Mary was indeed present during some of those events. However, the Bible definitely does not present her as having any sort of leadership role equal to that of the disciples. Also, in a couple of scenes, while the disciples were complaining or doubting, Mary stands firm, telling them to obey and trust Jesus. Granted, the disciples often misunderstood or doubted Jesus. But the Bible nowhere records Mary rebuking or instructing the disciples.

Lazarus

The scene portraying Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead has Jesus going into the tomb, while John 11 records Jesus, from outside the tomb, calling Lazarus to come out.

Barabbas

Barabbas, a notorious prisoner (Matthew 27:16), appears in several scenes. In one of them, he encourages Jesus to prove that He is the Messiah by conquering the Romans. In the Gospels, Barabbas only appears when Pontius Pilate offers to release Barabbas or Jesus (John 18:39-40).

Nicodemus

Son of God portrays Nicodemus as being a close confidant to the high priest Caiaphas. John 3 says Nicodemus was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He is never presented as being especially close to Caiaphas. The movie also uses Nicodemus to question Jesus, "Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar?" while Matthew 22:15-17 has the question being asked by a nameless Pharisee. It could have been Nicodemus, but the Gospels definitely do not identify that particular Pharisee as Nicodemus.

Judas

In the movie, Judas needs some convincing before he is willing to betray Jesus. In Matthew 26:16, Judas deliberately seeks an opportunity to betray Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane in the movie, when Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss, Peter punches Judas. While I actually enjoyed seeing Peter smack Judas, the Bible does not record anyone assaulting Judas.

Caiaphas

It was interesting how the movie portrays the political issues between Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas. Pilate is depicted as a brutal character, crushing any rebellion against his authority. In the movie, Caiaphas' issue with Jesus is primarily a matter of preventing a riot that would cause Pilate to close the Temple during Passover. While this was very likely part of Caiaphas' concern regarding Jesus, in the Gospels, Caiaphas is more concerned with Jesus due to His popularity and His claims to be the Messiah. Caiaphas did not want to lose power as a religious leader. That is the primary reason he wanted Jesus executed.

The Temple Veil

At the death of Christ, the movie shows the temple veil falling instead of tearing (Matthew 27:51). This crucially important symbolic event is definitely underemphasized. The tearing of the temple veil/curtain symbolized how the death of Christ removed the barrier between us and God. Now, through Christ, we can approach the throne of grace boldly (Hebrews 4:16). In the movie, it is merely a small part of the damage from the earthquake.

The First Witnesses

In the movie, Mary of Bethany is the first witness of the resurrection. The Bible has Mary Magdalene and two other women being the first witnesses (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1). The movie depicts Mary of Bethany entering Jesus' tomb and seeing the burial garments. The Bible says Peter was the one to enter the tomb and find the burial garments (John 20:2-10). Even beyond this, the various resurrection appearances are confused and out of order.

Conclusions

Far above the various issues mentioned above, I was most disappointed that the reason for Jesus' death and the meaning of His resurrection are completely missing. The fact that Jesus' death is the atoning sacrifice for sin is not mentioned at all (1 John 2:2). The connection between the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12) and Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29) is not made. The fact that Jesus' resurrection proves His victory over death and sin and guarantees a resurrected eternal life for all who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15) is nowhere to be found.

In the end, the Son of God movie is nothing more than a reasonably accurate history of the life of Christ. Yes, history is important, but in the Bible, the spiritual/theological meaning behind events is what is truly important.

The Son of God presents a Jewish Messiah who is crucified, dies, comes back to life, and commissions His followers to spread the word. But why did He have to die? What is the meaning of the resurrection? What is the message the apostles were supposed to proclaim, and why was it worth dying for?

Early in the movie, Jesus tells Peter they are going to change the world. That is absolutely and completely true. Jesus and the apostles did change the world (Acts 17:6). The Son of God ultimately falls short in that it neglects to explain why, how, and with what the world was changed.



TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Current-Issues  |  Jesus-Christ  |  Reviews-Critiques



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Published 3-3-2014
 


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