Is it appropriate to portray Jesus in movies?

By Jim Allen

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A young man wrote to Got Questions and asked if portraying Jesus in movies and television is a good or bad thing. His question was interesting because I've thought about this same question on occasion. Of course, any attempt to portray Jesus in movies and television (though in some instances masterfully done) fails to capture the essence of who they are trying to portray (Isaiah 46:9).

Jesus is God personified in flesh, having put aside his glory to redeem humanity (John 3:16). In fact, Jesus, " ...being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6-7).

The apostle Paul writes, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16). Jesus created the universe including this world and all living things. The design, complexity, beauty, and wonder of his creations are breathtaking and never-ending. But sadly, this truth about Jesus' commanding power over all creation is seldom told if ever.

Instead of portraying Jesus as God who set aside his glory to become the Lamb of God, film producers portray him as a social reformer, a good teacher, and morally upright. They portray him debating and confounding the wise, speaking in parables, performing miracles, and prophesying about future events. While all these portrayals are true, they are profoundly scant and barely an accurate depiction of his true majesty.

Over the years new Bible translations and hymnals have been altered to repackage the Gospel into a seeker friendly format minus the "heavy doctrine" about man's depravity (Romans 3:23), judgment (Romans 5:18), blood atonement (Colossians 1:20), and need for salvation (Romans 10:13). Jesus as the Lamb of God and King of Kings is a fading truth in many Bible translations and hymnals and consequently seldom heard any more from pulpits.

Sweeping these crucial truths out the door is widespread in independent churches and long-standing in mainline churches. As a result, we should not be surprised to see the Lamb of God label taken away from Jesus in the movies. Portraying the Savior on the silver screen without this label denies his divine priesthood and dilutes his ministry to nothing more than another gospel (Hebrews 4:14).

One recent "sweeping" occurred in The Bible series on the History Channel in 2013 and then again in the Son of God movie in 2014. These portrayals did a great job of portraying the humanity of Jesus in a way that was believable and persuasive. But, the denial of his role as the Lamb of God was a serious lapse and proof of apostasy (John 1:29). The article about the Son of God move, written by Houdmann, speaks to sweeping this particular truth out the door.

About the same movie Shelly Gettings wrote:
The contradictions are far from being minor...they were misleading. The scene where Jesus says: "I am the way the truth and the life..." and goes on to say, "I am the alpha and the omega..." leaves out the rest of the verse.
The rest of the verse says, " man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

The world may be willing to recognize Jesus as a prophet from God (on the same level as Mohamad) but then seem to have a problem recognizing Jesus as Savior, God personified (John 10:30).

For the producers of these films to misrepresent what the Bible clearly teaches is disturbing and more than inconsistent; it is far from imprecise and more than exercising artistic license. To purposely delete any part of a whole truth, however slight and for whatever reason, is to change truth to lie. This is deception, in play made possible through the principle of omission. Worse yet, these omissions are growing and ongoing and hardly noticed anymore by anyone.

Regardless, the true meaning of the Gospel is being changed and according to the Bible this is rank apostasy (Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 4:1).

While movie producers are free to take whatever artistic license they chose, Christian advisors partake in apostasy when they do not challenge these omissions. These producers and their advisors do not have authority to change the meaning of the Bible. Jesus said no man comes to the Father but by Him (John 6:44). Tossing aside fundamental truths is never an option and is never okay.

Shawn Abigail writes:
When it comes to the message of the Gospel, there can be no compromise and no easy pass for false teachers. The reasons why are first, the Gospel is the core of Christianity and when you change the foundational truths, cracks appear in the entire gospel structure and weakens its holy purpose. Secondly, if ministers teach another gospel, people will be confused about the path to salvation and risk an uncertain eternity. Finally and most serious, minister who knowingly compromise the Gospel are an affront to the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Published 12-31-14