There have been a slew of movies in 2014 with Biblical themes such as Heaven is for Real, God’s Not Dead, and Son of God. There was also a TV series called The Bible in 2013. Whenever a movie comes out claiming to say what the Bible says, it is always so important to compare it to the Bible. I found the importance to be immense when it came to Son of God. There were a few things I liked about Son of God, but there were several scenes that disturbed me.
Starting with what I liked about the movie, I thought that the healing of the soldier’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane was well done. It had decent visual effects, and it had a strong emotional effect on me. I was glad they included it.
I also believe this movie did a good job showing the conflict between the Jews and the Romans. The political struggle was very dangerous at that time, and this movie definitely made that clear.
I liked flash-forwards of the crucifixion during the during the Last Supper scene, and I liked the flash-backs of Palm Sunday seen during the procession to the crucifixion hill. This effect reminded me that Jesus knew how He would die and when His death was coming. It must have been hard to live with that. The flashbacks of Palm Sunday during the crucifixion reminded me how people praised Him, and now those same people were crucifying Him. This stirred up emotions for me, and it made my heart break for Jesus.
Room For Poetic License:
I have to give this movie – and others like it – a break in one area. Anytime someone wants to create a movie or TV show using the Bible, many times little scenes need to be added to create a smooth story or to give background information. Sometimes characters are added or subtracted.The following scenes in the movie were inserted purely for the purposes of the movie and were not taken from the Bible:
- Pilate’s soldiers push over a broken cart, killing a young boy.
- Romans kill Jews who were protesting that the temple funds were used to build the aqueduct.
- Mary Magdalene is in almost every scene.
- Peter tries to hit a pharisee.
- The same pharisee is always present.
- Disciples argue about the wisdom of going to Jerusalem for Passover. (The Bible does record the disciples arguing about who was the greatest, however.)
- Barabbas is there on Palm Sunday and seen again during a riot scene when Jesus says to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”
- Pilate has a sword fight with another man.
- 40 lashes came before the trial with Barabbas. (40 lashes were done after the hearing with Barabbas according to John 18:40-19:1.)
- Claudia has a dream in which a good, holy man is killed by Pilate. Later, she tells Pilate that Jesus is the holy man in her dream. The movie scene was very dramatic, but all the Bible has to say is the following:
Matthew 27:19: “… [Pilate’s] wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.’”
- There is a long conversation between Judas and Caiaphas in the movie about how Judas should betray Jesus, but the Bible says Judas simply went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” (Matthew 26:14-16).
Nothing on that list makes me feel disturbed or offended because it does not detract from whom Jesus is, according to the Bible. The next several scenes listed below bothered me deeply because these scenes misrepresent Jesus’ character and personality, and failed to deliver the message of forgiveness.
Jesus Never Promised an Easy Life
Two scenes in the movie give the impression that living the life of a Christian – following Jesus – means we will have an easy life. The Bible does not promise that we will never face violent crimes, experience starvation, struggle with temptation, or face persecution. The Bible does promise that because Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, we will never face eternal death as long as we don’t choose to reject Him.
One of the first parts in the movie is the scene of Jesus calling Simon Peter to be a disciple. In the movie, Jesus wades from the shore to Peter in the boat and says, “Give me one hour, and I will give you a whole new life.” Jesus stirs water with fingers while magical music plays. Peter brings in net after net of fish.(In Luke 5:1-11, the net tears, and other boats come to help, but they are so loaded with fish that they begin to sink). The message in the movie is unclear. Is Jesus calling Peter to help spread the Gospel? Or is Jesus offering a wonderful life full of abundance?
A second scene also puts emphasis on Jesus simply offering abundance. In the movie’s scene of the feeding of 5,000 – Jesus said, “Don’t worry about daily needs; trust God, and everything else will follow.” Then the crowd chanted “Messiah!” Did Jesus perform this miracle to care for His people and give glory to God? Or is this miracle a promise of plenty?
Two scenes in the movie left out crucial evidence recorded in the Bible. John 19:34 tells us, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” This is important information. Many skeptics believe that Jesus did not truly die, which is why He was able to walk out of the tomb. The spear and the separation of water and blood were left out of the movie.
Another piece of important evidence of Jesus’ resurrection recorded in the Bible are the crowds of witnesses who saw Him alive after his crucifixion and entombment. 1 Corinthians 15:6 says,“Then He appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time.” This is important because some skeptics believe that the resurrected Christ was simply a few men’s hallucinations, or a few men getting together and forming a lie. But over 500 men having one hallucination or all telling the exact same lie is a little hard to believe. Yet, the movie left out this crucial information and simply showed Jesus appearing to the disciples and the women, then ascending into heaven.
Jesus Was Fully Man and Fully God:
The scene of the Last Supper gave the impression that Jesus was not all-knowing, but rather, that He doubted Himself. In the movie, Peter says he will not fall away, that he will lay down his life for Jesus. Jesus says, “Will you?” with a childlike hope and then hugs Peter, eyes closed. His eyes quickly open with a look of shock, as if he has just had a vision. He says Peter will deny him three times “before dawn.” This added intense emotion and drama to the scene, but it detracted from the truth.
Jesus Didn’t Force Judas to Betray:
In the movie during the Last Supper, Jesus says, “One of you will betray me.”
“Whoever eats this.” He then holds up a piece of bread, and forces it into Judas’ mouth. Judas then flees and coughs up the bread. The movie made it appear that Judas did not have a choice. However, Matthew and Mark both have different answers for when Jesus responded to the question, “Who?”
Matthew 26:23 “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.”
Mark 14:18 “One who is eating with me.”
Jesus never forced Judas to betray Him; Judas had already made his decision. Likewise, God does not force anyone to reject Him. God wants all people to come to Him.
The Bible records two times that Jesus wept. For people who grieve, who battle with depression, who experience sorrow, those two words, “Jesus wept,” have immense meaning. Jesus felt our emotions. He knows grief. He grieves because He loves. Son of God left out this important aspect of Jesus’ character and even twisted His reactions into something else.
The movie scene with Lazarus shows Jesus kissing the head of Lazarus. Suddenly, both Jesus’ and Lazarus’ eyes open simultaneously. In the movie, this was simply another dramatic miracle. However, John 11:1-45 tells a different story. Lazarus was a good friend to Jesus. When Jesus arrived on the fourth day after Lazarus’ death, it pained Him to see family and friends grieving. He wept. Then He stood at the tomb and called, “Lazarus, come out!” and Lazarus walked out.
The Bible records a second time Jesus wept. Jesus was looking over Jerusalem and explained that one day, its enemies would overtake it, and not one stone would be left on the other. He wept (Luke 19:41-44.) He grieved for the current spiritual blindness of Jerusalem and its future destruction. What is shown in Son of God? Jesus plays with a child, not weeping, but laughing, while saying “not one stone will be left standing.” Who is this Jesus? This is not the caring Jesus I read about in the Bible. This is a thoughtless, immature, and insensitive man.
Where is Forgiveness?
Son of God leaves out two key phrases during its Last Supper scene: “Broken for you,” and “blood of the covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This is huge! Jesus’ body was broken for you. His sacrifice fulfilled the requirement of the Law and formed a New Covenant with His people – a promise of forgiveness through faith. That Last Supper on Maundy Thursday was not just a meal. It was not just Jesus’ last get-together with His buddies. It was not just another celebration of Passover. It was the fulfillment of Passover. And this was left out of the movie? Why?
Another message of forgiveness was done incorrectly in the movie. When Jesus died on the cross, the movie shows the temple curtain falling; it simply flutters down to the ground. This curtain separated the Holy Place in the temple from the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest was to enter the Most Holy Place and only once per year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The curtain that separated God’s earthly dwelling from the people symbolizes how sin separates people from God.
The Bible does not say the temple curtain simply fell. Both Matthew 27:51 and Mark 15:38 say, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” It didn’t fall; it was destroyed. Not only was it torn, but it torn from top to bottom – from heaven to earth, from God to man. Records show that this curtain was about 60 feet high. Curtains of that height do not simply rip from top to bottom. This symbolized that Jesus completed the requirement of the Law, and we are no longer separated from God. Another miraculous message that Son of God got wrong.
Son of God: Jesus did not come to conquer the Romans. He was the Son of God, a miracle worker.
God’s Word: Jesus came to conquer sin, because He loves you.
I’ll take the Bible’s message over this movie’s message any day. Will you?