Is it appropriate to portray Jesus in movies?

Jim Allen

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Should Jesus be in movies? The answer to this young man's question is YES and NO.

Portraying Christ in movies and television is good when God can use the portrayal of Jesus (however incomplete and ill-conceived) as a way of guiding searching souls to truth (John 6:44). But I hesitate to rest merely on this admission. While God can use anything to get us going in the right direction, assuredly scripture will convict the heart to see all truth, both the good and bad. The apostle John wrote, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13).

One weekend while in college I saw the movie entitled The Greatest Story Ever Told. While watching the movie, I treasured the message of Christ. I remember thinking, "Oh, how I would like to have lived then and been one of his disciples." Within three years of the movie, I had developed an intense interest in the things of God. Although I was being led to salvation, I did not know nor would have ever thought it to be true based on my conduct. Although lost, God was at work in my life revealing (through reading the Bible (1 Peter 1:23)) the truth about my lost condition and need for the Savior.

The Bible portrayed Jesus to me one truth at a time over time, in ways movies and television never could. While God can save in an instant, it takes time to convert the soul to walk in truth by faith.

This particular movie was a biblical starting point used by God to bait my interest in Christ that eventually led to my salvation. Like the Tax Collector in Luke 18:13, God opened my eyes to see my sin and His sacrifice for that sin on the cross. I was heartbroken, grieved, and humbled by the picture of it all. I prayed to receive Christ and went on to experience a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As previously cited, portraying Jesus in movies and television can be bad when charlatans and blasphemers portray Christ as a mere man, claiming he is a prophet no greater than any other of God's servants. Movies and television series omitting scripture fundamental to the Christian faith send the wrong message. To omit or change the meaning of scripture transforms the Gospel into an empty creed founded on the ideas of men (1 Corinthians 15: 1-2; Galatians 1:8).

Perhaps this is why the Bible tells us not to make any graven images of God (Exodus 20:4). Mike Bennett writes:
God commands us not to make idols or any representation of Him. Nothing we can make can compare with Almighty God—human handiwork would only give us a false image of the true God. We are not to use statues, pictures, jewelry or anything else to represent God or as a physical aid in worshipping Him.
Is producing a movie about Jesus the same as making a graven image? It could be if the producer and audience use that image to define God. The Bible says, "Beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female..." (Deuteronomy 4:16-19).

In closing, movies can be an image (perhaps even an idol for some) of what Jesus might have been like as a person during his time on earth. Diogo Morgado, in the Son of God movie, does a magnificent job of capturing the compassionate side of how the Savior might have lived and mingled among the people. But, Jesus was more than a man. He was God clothed in flesh (John 1:14) and his sacrificial undertaking far greater than revealed in today's movies.

While God can use movies and television for good, Satan can use both for bad and herein the precipice upon which we walk. Even though Diogo Morgado acted magnificently to portray a made-up Jesus, we are called to portray the real Jesus on the world's stage for all to see (2 Corinthians 3:2).

Let our performance be true and our life superbly glorious in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

TagsChristian-Life False-Teaching Jesus-Christ Reviews-Critiques

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Published 12-31-14