Earlier this week, I went to go see the movie, "Risen" with a group from my church family. In light of some of the other movies about biblical events, this one was quite refreshing. The main character is a fictional character, but not out of character from what we know in scripture. 1 Corinthians 15 says that Yeshua had appeared to over 500 people. Since his mission was ultimately the whole world, and since Yeshua had already ministered to non-Jewish people, such as the Canaanite woman and a Centurion, among others, it is reasonable to assume that some of those that Yeshua appeared to could have been Roman.
The film fills in some of the details that the scriptural writers do not mention, such as how the tomb's seals were broken. There are a few details that are simply not correct, such as the place of CHrist's ascension, which, according to scripture, was in Jerusalem at not in Galilee, which is what the movie seems to suggest. But aside from these things, the movie overall is a good movie.
Some of the things that I appreciated about the movie:
1. Jesus was a Jew. The actor looked like a middle eastern man rather than the typical caucasian man typically seen in artistic interpretations of Jesus. Throughout the movie, they referred to Jesus by the Hebrew pronunciation of his name, "Yeshua." This portrayal showed the cultural, ethnic, and religious distance from Jesus and a Roman like Clavius who served the empire.
2. The resurrection of Yeshua was front and center. Some times portryals of Yeshua emphasize his crucifixion and give much less attention to his resurrection. The Apostles, in their preaching, put much greater emphasis on the resurrection. According to the discussion 1 Corinthians 15, all of our hopes rest on the resurrection. Without it, we are still in sin and without hope. It was the resurrection that grabbed the attention of the Roman tribute and caused him to start to question everything that he had accepted as truth.
3. The portrayal of those who believed Yeshua. At one point in the movie, the Clavius is asking Peter all kinds of questions about Yeshua and his resurrection. Peter responded by saying there was a lot of things he simply did not have the answer to. He didn't need to know everything in order to be a follower of Christ. It was enough that Yeshua had demonstrated that he was of God and was indeed the promissed anointed one. At another point in the movie, Bartholomew told Clavius that at first, they really didn't understand that Yeshua would literally be resurrected from the dead. Clavius wanted to know - why then did they followed him? At that point, Yeshua heals a leper that stumbled on the scene. After the leper walks away, Bartholomew smiles, looks at Clavius, and answers, "That's why!" Yeshua gave signs to those who had ears to hear that he was indeed the Christ, with the ultimate sign beign his resurrection. What I appreciated was how the movie showed that you do not have to have all the answers to have faith. When Clavius sits with Yeshua as Yeshua is apparently praying, Clavius said, "I don't even know what to ask." Here is a man that wants to know and wants to understand. He is on a journey to faith that leads to him telling what he discovered about Yeshua to a stranger and saying at the end of the movie, "I believe."
4. The movie invites the audience to consider Yeshua. In portraying the journey of faith from the standpoint of an outsider who begins as an unbeliever and skeptic who becomes a believer when faced with the evidence, it invites the audience to also consider the evidence. Jesus is risen from the dead. What does this mean for you?
This movie is a great reminder to all about the centrality of Christ and his resurrection to our faith. It is also a great beginning point to starting a conversation about Jesus and the significance of both his work and his identity.