WHAT ABOUT JESUS’ RESURRECTION?

As we come to Easter Sunday there are two pieces I want to share that I hope will enhance your celebration of Jesus’ resurrection this year.

The first is the words of a worship song. One of the songs at the church we attended last weekend had such an impact on me I thought others would appreciate as well. I invite you to meditate on and savor these lyrics that emphasize the result of Jesus’ resurrection.

The head that once was crowned with thorns

Is crowned with glory now

The Savior knelt to wash our feet

Now at His feet we bow

 

The One who wore our sin and shame

Now robed in majesty

The radiance of perfect love

Now shines for all to see

 

Your name, Your name is victory

All praise will rise to Christ our King

Your name, Your name is victory

All praise will rise to Christ our King

 

The fear that held us now gives way

To Him who is our peace

His final breath upon the cross

Is now alive in me

 

The tomb where Life itself was laid

Was borrowed for three days

His body there would not remain

Our God has robbed the grave

 

Copied from Elevation Church website (http://elevationchurch.org/worship/)

 

The second piece is on a totally different level. It is a quote from an academic book I was reading this week that is worth reading even if we don’t totally agree with the author:

“It is notoriously difficult to deal with the resurrection in a historical presentation. Many historians do not think that consideration of the resurrection belongs to the study of the historical Jesus. After all, a person’s life begins with his birth and ends with his death. In addition, even if the resurrection happened, it lies beyond history and certainly beyond historical research. But what the historian can say with assurance is that the earliest Christians experienced something that they interpreted as seeing the risen Jesus. Not only does all the evidence point in this direction; it is difficult to imagine that the Jesus movement would have survived the horrendous and humiliating execution of its leader and the flight of the disciples unless the disciples had some experience that turned things around for them.”

(emphasis added) From Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus by Frederick J. Murphy.

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ARE YOU GOING TO SEE RISEN?

With a few exceptions, I have been disappointed the last several years with the movies I have seen based upon the Bible. If you saw Noah and/or Exodus: Gods and Kings you know what I mean. If you didn’t see them you were wise not to waste your time or spend your money.

I saw the new film Risen yesterday and I am pleased to report that not only was I not disappointed, I was impressed and enjoyed it. I agree with both Fox News’ reporter Todd Starnes who proclaimed “It’s a miracle! Hollywood finally tells a great Bible story” and Christianity Today’s chief film critic Alissa Wilkinson who reported it “is not quite like any film based on the Bible that I’ve seen before.”

As the title indicates, Risen is about Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday following His Good Friday crucifixion. Others may not agree with me, but I thought the movie was biblical, realistic, inspirational, and touching. It cost me $21.50 for my ticket, diet coke, popcorn, and candy; but the $8.25 for the ticket was worth it as was the time it took to see it. (Note I did not say the diet coke, popcorn, and candy was worth $13.25).

Was the movie perfect? No. No movie made from a book or novel will be perfect. Think about some of the movies you have seen that were made from a novel. I remember years ago reading Jaws and then how surprised I was when I saw the movie. The movie was not like I had imagined it would be based upon reading the novel.

Does Risen add to the Bible’s account? Yes. Is what it adds speculative. Yes. To make a movie from the Bible requires that some speculative addition be made. Risen tells the story of what happened after Jesus rose from the dead through a Roman tribune soldier named Clavius who was Pilate’s right hand man. His assignment is to find the corpse of the crucified Nazarene so they can refute the rumor that He rose from the dead.

Of course there is no Clavius in the Gospel accounts, but Matthew 27:62-64 does tell us the chief priests and the Pharisees were aware that before His death Jesus said He would rise again. Those verses also tell us the religious leaders were afraid Jesus’ disciples would steal His body and tell people He had risen. And Matthew 28:11-15 tells us the chief priests paid the soldiers to lie about what happened. In the movie almost everything Clavius deals with from Jesus’ death to His ascension has some basis in the Gospels. That is why I said above the film is realistic.

In the midst of a lot of biblical material in the movie, there are a few dislocations of sayings in terms of where they appear in the Bible. I can live with that as I was pleased to see so much Bible in the story’s speculation and additions. I don’t know if any Roman soldiers became believers after Jesus’ resurrection and before His ascension. But I do know that when Jesus died some soldiers remarked, “Surely he was the Son of God!” And Acts 10 tells us about a centurion name Cornelius who later became a Christian.

You have to decide for yourself if you want to see this movie. Having seen it I can say it was not totally satisfying, but it was worth seeing.

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