‘Jesus, His Life’ was a History channel multiple episode look at the life of Jesus, as told by the people in his life who were closest to him. Eight episodes were aired leading up to Easter told by Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Caiaphas, Judas, Pilate, Mary Magdalene, and Peter.
I’m not going to reiterate all of the personal comments contained in the reviews we posted, but share three observations and try and answer one question
Pastor Gabe Hughes, whose review of the first episode strongly suggested that this series would miss the true message of the gospel – that Jesus died for the sins of His people, was right. There were only two significant mentions of sin in the series, at least that I could see, and I watched every episode. One commentator, Adam Marshak, told us, “John’s (the Baptist) message is simple; repent of your sins, receive Baptism, receive purification, and you will be saved.” Was he teaching ‘baptismal’ regeneration? If the answer is yes, he was presenting a false gospel, repudiated in both the Old and New Testaments. The second reference to sin was actually an excellent comment. “There is nothing more important in Christianity than the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus defeats death, so he defeats sin, and his being raised to new life is about the promise to Christians that they too will be raised on the last day.” (Mark Goodacre)
The ‘gospel’ message presented was that Jesus was sent by God to save/fix everything that is wrong with the world, over and over again, by multiple commentators. In a word, ‘social justice’ is the gospel message delivered to the viewer. While matters of justice in society are addressed in the Bible, they are the natural result of Salvation, as believers are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and by that Spirit are urged to love & care for others in a myriad of ways.
In the episode covering the Last Supper, Jesus says, “This is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many.”, using the Mark 4:24 reference. The Matthew 26:28 passage says, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Probably not a really big deal, but certainly a missed opportunity to include the specific reason shed his blood.
So from beginning to end, this film series completely MISSED presenting the gospel message that actually saves sinners – that Jesus died for the sins of His people, the very message the Angel bought to Joseph before the Savior’s birth.!
The Question: WHY?
Why do these sorts of films keep failing to share a message that can actually save sinners?
First of all, let me say that I completely understand why secular film makers, who are not themselves believers in Christ, would miss the true gospel. The Bible I read tells me that all unbelievers are lost and in bondage to sin, living in darkness, and in rebellion against their creator. I get that. Such a message won’t generate a large audience, or sell many tickets at the box office.
But why do professing believers keep failing to share the gospel that is about the problem of sin? Well I know why some do (Think Joel Osteen, the series producer). He told Larry King, during an interview, that he never dwells on sin. After all, we all know we sin and it’s not really necessary. In the same interview Joel said he sees himself as more of a life coach than anything else (like a biblical preacher?)
The series was full of commentators who were ordained ministers or, connected to Christian institutions. They didn’t share the genuine gospel either! This series doesn’t stand alone in that regard. The other productions mentioned at the beginning of this post were exactly same. This missing the gospel trends is also a prevailing characteristic of most offerings from Pureflix. I watched a fair amount of Pureflix offerings and finally stopped. They were too painful to watch.
I suspect this trend is based partly on the thought that if we just tell people how much Jesus loves them – wants to bless them in every way materially, and how special they are (God can’t even imagine heaven without us), they will find it really hard NOT to give their lives to Jesus, ask him into their hearts, walk an aisle, or repeat a special prayer, and all by making own ‘free will’ decision. In all fairness, there are many that believe that this is the BEST way to share the gospel. There was a time when I believed it myself. That was a LONG tome ago, before I read the Bible a few more times, and feel in love with the soul humbling doctrines of Sovereign grace.
The Apostle Paul tells us the true gospel is offensive to unbelievers, in their ‘natural’ state. The bad news about sin is deeply offensive to those who love their sin (all lost people). Paul also told us not to remove the natural offensiveness of the gospel (Gal 5:11, 1 Cor 1:17), yet we do, over and over again. Paul also proclaimed that he was NOT ashamed of that gospel (Acts 1:16). This offensive message is THE message that has the power to save sinners!
I see only two possible reasons for not sharing a gospel message that hits to the core problem we all have – SIN. We might have been taught that we just need to ‘attract’ people to Jesus and talking about sin could drive them away. Or, perhaps we are just ‘Ashamed of the Gospel’, as John MacArthur’s book of that name presents to us so clearly.
Again, I’m not trying to be unduly harsh with the makers of this, or any other of today’s popular Christian film offerings. But for this this old soldier, if I fail to share the true gospel, and trust in the sovereignty of God to save His own, just as the Angel promised Joseph, I am either ashamed of the gospel, or I have a very low view of God.
As for this, and many other “Christian’ offerings from the entertainment industry, most are nothing more than ‘adventures in missing the point.’ It was true of the other Bible based offerings we have reviewed here at The Battle Cry. And it it’s true of most Pureflix offerings. It was true of every single one that I watched some of their productions.
A bit of advice. 1) Pray for God to open hearts to receive the ‘bad news’ and the ‘good news’. 2) Pray that He send His gospel to the hearts He opened to hear it. 3) Be ready to be the messenger and share the whole gospel, with gentleness and love. Take the conversation to the ‘bad’ news first, followed by the good news.
“He WILL save His people from their sins.”
In you didn’t have the opportunity to read an old guy’s reviews of the series episodes, here are the links:
Jesus, His Life, Episode 1: Joseph: the Nativity – Pastor Gabe Hughes Jesus, His Life, Episode 2–John the Baptist: The Mission Jesus, His Life, Episode 3: Mary, The First Miracles Jesus, His Life, Episode 4: Caiaphas: The Raising of Lazarus Jesus, His Life, Episode 5: Judas: The Betrayal Jesus, His Life, Episode 6: Pilate: The Trial Jesus, His Life, Episode 7: Mary Magdalene: The Crucifixion Jesus, His Life, Episode 8: Peter: The Resurrection
I hadn’t watched the series, but I have watched similar on the “History” channel, and I have concluded that “HIS STORY” was not accurately told, and I do agree with this post in his critique.
I did go to the theater about a year ago, a story about Paul. It was terrible. It was awful. It was, like this post states, about social justice, and not sin/salvation, that Jesus came to correct the political climate of the Pharisees, and the Pharisees saw Jesus as a threat to their government.
Many of these kinds of films has a Catholic twist to it, as well, for which I am not a fan of either, since I am not Catholic, and I do not see things as the Catholics do, which is less about Jesus and more about rituals.
Now, I know you have a problem with “inspirational” movies about Christianity. This is where we part ways. Yes, they are cheesey, the actors can’t act, etc., but I love inspiration movies that brings people to Christ. But to have a film about Jesus regarding social justice? That’s not depicting the truth at all.
Just my 2 cents.
Ed, I don’t have an issue with inspirational films as a genre, but with those purporting to share the gospel of Christ that fail to address the core issue the gospel addresses – our sin.
I didn’t watch the movie about ‘Paul’. I could watch it on the DVR – my wife recorded it. Usually what I do is read good reviews before spending money. I’ve reviewed several Bible based movies on this blog and I don’t think any of them ever got to the gospel message that included the issue of sin. I don’t mind good wholesome movies, even if they are a little bit cheesy and ‘too’ feel good. But when a movie advertising itself as a way to find God and doesn’t include the message that can actually lead to salvation (the gospel message about sin, repentance and forgiveness) I get a little upset.
Thank you for this overall summary and observation of the series; going to post this on my round up post of your series