While perusing Netflix programming I noticed an ad for the 1977 movie, “Jesus of Nazareth.” I must say, Netflix took long enough to add it to their streaming menu. So, I added it to my watch list, but let it sit there for a week or so. I finally watched the first half tonight, but with mixed reactions.
Hollywood, for a change, didn’t reduce the gospel to pablum, but the British and Italians made a valiant effort to do just that. Still, the gospel’s power shined through bland cinematography and loose treatment of salvation’s story, as there were a few brilliant, extra-Biblical lines that effectively related some of what wasn’t included from the Bible.
Of course, one can’t expect a movie to conform to everyone’s vision of Jesus’ life, but Robert Powell’s sometimes vacant Jesus-stare was lost on me. Somehow I’m certain that Jesus was in fact far more dynamic than this portrayal. He nailed it, though, in Jesus’ debate with the Pharisees, showing at least some of the power and authority I might expect from the very Son of God. During that debate he defended his healing on the Sabbath, but as far as I can recall, the writers left out a most telling statement: “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28) If you know I’m wrong, inform me in the comments.
I suggest to anyone who takes in this movie, first familiarize yourself with the true gospel so you’ll know where the film falls short. Even so, watching this film will be an emotional experience for anyone who loves Jesus.