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Son of God: Their Empire, His Kingdom, reviewed by John King

Jesus, played by Diogo Morgado, speaks in soothing, yet arresting, tones that suggest the actor might have captured the spirit of our Savior’s words and not just the text. Even while cleansing the Temple, he seems more on the verge of tears that wanting to call an army of angels to obliterate the offenders.

The second half of the movie is taken up unraveling the details around the Easter weekend. The last supper is indeed a tearful goodbye. Peter cries. This alone is worth the movie.

In the Garden Peter slugs Judas Iscariot and starts a small riot leading to Malchus’ severed ear lobe.

The movie is PG-13 primarily because of the scenes depicting Jesus’ trial and death. The music ups the tension and suspense as if we didn’t know what’s coming. While Jesus is being whipped, you may cry along with the music and the crowd of unknown observers.

The sayings on the cross are well represented. Be prepared to cry a few more tears. I would not be surprised if a few viewers found salvation at this point.

If you are a bible scholar cut this movie some slack remembering that the writers and directors and producers needed to capture our interest, the spirit of the time, and the inspiration of the message until the final scene. I am reminded of a saying by Dorothy Sayer, the British mystery novelist, who as a devout Catholic felt obligated to speak up about Christian indifference to the Message of Calvary—the burden of this film. She observed that the message has grown boring for many. This movie hopes to correct this image.

In Creed or Chaos, page 8-9, Miss Sayer wrote:

The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore; on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. …

So that is the outline of the official story—the talk of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when he submitted to the conditions he had laid down and became a man like the men he had made, and the men he had made broke him and killed him.

It [is] a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it. Seeing that Christ went about the world giving the most violent offense to all kinds of people, it would seem absurd to expect that the doctrine of His Person can be so presented as to offend nobody…

Pilate, at the movie’s end, responds to his wife’s remorse, saying, “He will be forgotten in a week!”

The movie concludes with the Resurrected Savior commissioning His followers and the song, “Mary Did You Know.”

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2014

About the Author: John H. King, M.Th., retired from the pastorate after serving congregations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts for over 24 years and now develops software for the financial services industry. He is the author of Challenged: Living Our Faith in a Post Modern Age.

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