Many years ago, I noticed that a lot of Jesus movies have Him portrayed as an ultra serious guy who shows little need for trivial things such as smiling and laughing. What a shame! And then one day I watched, Matthew (starring Bruce Marchiano, 1993). Finally, a film that depicted Jesus as a man who would dare crack a smile. At any rate, since that time, I’ve always enjoyed watching Jesus movies with the purpose of critiquing how He is portrayed.
Thanks to youtube, I finally got around to watching three movies I’ve been wanting to view. One was the musical Jesus Christ Superstar (starring Ted Neeley, 1973). Yeah, I know … it took me 41 years to get to this. Well, I’m not exactly into musicals. By the way, Neeley has some pipes! At any rate, it’s kind of difficult to get a good read on an actor who’s singing all the time. But I’d say the most gripping scene was Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemene. It was a moving account of how Jesus would have loved the Father to find another way to save mankind, a way other than his impending crucifixion. It really caused me to stop and reflect on the humanity of Jesus. I mean, God in the flesh doesn’t like suffering either! I was also moved by Neeley as he did a great job of demonstrating Jesus’ sadness for those who simply didn’t seem to understand who He was or what His mission was really about.
I then watched The Perfect Stranger (starring Jefferson Moore, 2005). This is a movie about a modern-day female lawyer with marital problems. After her husband cancels their dinner plans, she heads into work only to find a rather odd invitation on her desk. It’s an invitation from Jesus to have dinner with her at a local Chicago restaurant. Yeah, kinda cheesy … but at the same time I found it kind of intriguing as this movie was nothing like the typical. Jesus ends up being a good looking blond guy dressed in jacket and tie for this high-end restaurant. With the lawyer being a skeptic, the entire movie becomes Jesus setting forth one classic apologetic argument after another that proves the existence of God. It’s wasn’t the most gripping movie in the world, but something about it worked for me. I’m still not sure what it was. Perhaps it’s simply the fact that Jesus is portrayed as someone who cares about individuals. I mean, if He cares about this lawyer, then maybe He cares about me too! It also showed God as One who cares about our life events; He’s a God who knows everything and does indeed care.
I then moved on to the sequel, Another Perfect Stranger (starring Jefferson Moore, 2007). This picks up where the last movie ended, only it quickly moves forward 10 years. What we learn is that they lawyer and her husband are now Christians and have a better marriage. However, their daughter is now skeptical of whether God is real or not. In an effort to escape her parents for the weekend, she hops on a plane to go visit a potential arts college. Jesus, of course, ends up sitting next to her on the plane. My initial thoughts, “Wow, Jesus really loves this family. I mean, couldn’t they come up with a better plot?” But yeah I know, it’s just a movie so go with it and see what happens. I’m glad I did! That’s because you really need to watch these movies together to get a good understanding of how Jesus is really being portrayed. In the first, Jesus was a dressed up professional person for the lawyer. But in this movie, Jesus is a laid back everyday dude with longer curly hair, a person the 18 year-old was comfortable with. Whereas in the first movie, Jesus did most of the talking, in this movie He was a listener (a Counselor). The big take-away for me was seeing Jesus move into our life setting. We might often think of Jesus as some ancient guy we can’t relate to. These movies try to communicate that God is most definitely in touch with us on a personal level. For that, I really like these two movies.