Why I HATED the Made for TV movie Killing Jesus
None of the images in this blog were taken from the movie Killing Jesus. They all came from the LDS.org Media Library, (did you know you can use them for free?)
First off, if you have read Chocolate Cream Centers, you know that I try to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. I don’t think I could ever live equal to my testimony of Jesus Christ as my Savior, Lord and King. But I truly try my best.
But I would probably be a heathen if I believed in a “Jesus” that had no more power than the character portrayed in the recently released, Killing Jesus. It’s based on Bill O’Reilly’s book by the same title.
It wasn’t that the acting was not convincing; it was. The character of Jesus was completely believable, completely human. But had I not known that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, I never, never, never would have taken the hint from that movie! It wasn’t the actor’s fault. It was utterly the fault of the script and/or directing/producing.
The healing of a child “possessed” was the only miracle depicted and even it was done in such a way that anyone could have gone to the child, comforted him, prayed and had the same result. It hinted that it was a coincidence, the mere result of Jesus being a devout lover of God.
But Jesus raised three people from the dead! Jesus gave people born blind their sight! He didn’t just comfort the lepers, (as is depicted in the movie. . .an expression of love only, and not of power) he cured them. Healed them in batches of ten at a time by the word of his mouth! Then he sent them to the priest to have their cleanliness verified, (as by Jewish law) so they could re-enter society.
People who had never walked leapt up and followed him. He fed 5000 families (not 5000 people) and then 4000 families with a few loaves and fishes. The winds and the waves obey him! He walked on water!
What a milk-toast portrayal to have John the Baptist teaching him that he was special! And, did Mary (his mother) have no memory of her virgin state when she gave birth? Mary, of all people, knew who he was! Yet that is not shown to be the case in the movie.
It implies that cleansing the temple was what made the Sanhedrin decide they must kill him without ever mentioning raising Lazarus from the dead. It was the raising of Lazarus, who had been dead and buried several days, that demonstrated irrefutably that he had power over life and death and caused the leaders of the Jews to recognize the full threat to their power and authority.
Lazarus came out of the tomb after being dead 4 days. Jesus instructed his sisters to “loose him” from his burial clothes.
To make it worse, the Bible says after he had suffered in Gethsemane so that he sweat great drops of blood for us, was crucified for us, and gave his life amidst ultimate suffering: going below all things, below all sorrow, pain, hate, injustice, evil, disappointment, he rose again on the third day. In the movie, it depicts him being tortured and crucified, (the others crucified with him are so far in the distance as not to be noticeable) and then the tomb is empty. They all smile. And when Peter finds his nets bursting with fish, he looks up to heaven and says, “He’s back!” What’s wrong with this picture?
Crucifixion is a cruel, torturous method of execution, but it was not uncommon. Jesus was not unique in the method of his death. His suffering went far beyond the ordinary because as the Son of God, he had power to descend below all and then to triumph in resurrection. I give movie makers a pass in that failure. . .how does one depict ultimate and eternal sacrifice of self, the triumph of good over evil as enacted by one Being? I don’t blame them for failing, but I do blame them for not trying to depict something more than an ordinary, (albeit gruesome) execution.
The Bible makes it clear that Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and he spoke to her, when she lingered at the empty tomb.
But making His resurrection seem like an imagined thing is offensive on every level. He appeared to so many! At first, he told Mary not to touch him, because there was apparently another stage of resurrection that was yet incomplete. But she apparently started to try. Later, He demonstrated that his resurrected body had tangible material by eating and drinking. He commanded the remaining eleven apostles to “feel the prints of the nails in his hands and to thrust their hands into the wound in his side” where the sword had pierced his dead body. He commented to the Apostle Thomas that he was blessed to have believed after he had seen but went on to add that more blessed were those who had not seen but had still believed. He wanted to make them absolutely certain by every sense available, to testify that he was the same creature that had been crucified and that his body, though changed in resurrection, was the same body.
He taught his apostles as he prepared a meal of fish. He gave them further instruction and reminded them of the ministry to which they were called.
Note that the thieves on either side of Jesus are traditionally tied instead of nailed to their crosses. There is no indication in scripture that this would have been the case.
These events were the turning point, the fulcrum by which all mortality for all mankind is levered into heaven. His hands are stretched out still!
The movie depicts him as a rabble-rousing zealot. Merely a righteous martyr.
I hate this movie! All devout Christians will hate this movie. Not that it matters particularly whether the acting or even the details of the events of Christ’s life, atoning sacrifice, death, resurrection are accurately portrayed, or artistic license is taken, but because it discourages faith. It explains away his divine nature as mere righteousness. By taking away his power in mortality, you take away his power to cleanse us with his blood. The movie reduces him to mere philosopher. People might be his disciples as they might follow Darwin or Newton, or Queen Victoria or any other influential person in history.
With all this said, there were some things I liked about the movie. Though there isn’t any Biblical indication, I liked that Judas had doubts and issues all along. That makes sense to me. The Bible does indicate that he was as he was “from the beginning.”
I also liked depiction of the members of the Sanhedrin. They always pretended to be acting in support of Jewish law and their plotting against him was always done in defense of their tradition. Jesus called them a generation of vipers. Convincing.
The acting was great. The settings were seamless, The three denials of Peter were convincing, if over-emphasized. The crucifixion seemed to be an accurate portrayal.
In fairness to Bill O’Reilly, the author of the book Killing Jesus, upon which the movie is based, I haven’t read the book. (I read Killing Lincoln and LOVED it.) I don’t know how the book relates to the movie or if its power was lost in translation. Bill O’Reilly says he dreamed the concept of Killing Jesus and understood it to be the Holy Spirit directing him to use his voice to tell the story. I believe it. I’ve had very similar experiences, and I know that he’s a genuinely righteous man. But I can’t imagine that God wanted him to convey such a weak and watered down version of Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten of the Father, the Messiah! If anyone has read the book and seen the movie, tell me what you think. Or if anyone has opportunity to ask Bill what he feels about the way the movie turned out, will you ask him for me? I’m utterly baffled by it!