Risen MovieRisen: Movie Review


Yesterday, a friend and I went to see the movie Risen. The movie is a fictional account of how the resurrection of Jesus Christ might be seen through the eyes of a Roman soldier. Clavius is a battle-weary military officer who took part in Jesus’s crucifixion. In this regard, the movie is quite unique. The filmmakers do a terrific job in character and plot development, as well as visual effects. Further, the actors provide a compelling performance.

However, while I understand the need for creative license, my eyes start to twitch when I watch scenes that blatantly violate Scripture. To portray Mary Magdalene as a prostitute after decades of scholars trying to set the record straight is …well, rather lazy. It also could leave the impression that Mary may have remained a prostitute even after becoming a disciple of Jesus. (it is just not clear, which is unfortunate). The message of the gospel is centered on God’s unconditional love. His love transforms us so that we are never the same again. I am not sure whether the Mary in this movie got the message.

Near the end of the movie, we see a truly touching scene where Jesus heals a diseased-ridden leper. If the scene were properly placed prior to the Resurrection, it would have been absolutely beautiful. However, the scene is placed after the Resurrection, when no such miracles occurred. One of the primary purposes for Jesus displaying His power to heal prior to the Resurrection was to prove that He was Who He said He was.

The Miracles Prove Jesus Was Who He Said He Was

Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works [miracles] themselves.” (John 14:10-11 ESV)

After Jesus rises from the dead, no more miracles are needed; the miracle of the Resurrection is the miracle of all miracles. If that doesn’t convince someone that He was Who He said He was, nothing will. This is not to say that God does not heal today. Rather, that while Jesus was on earth, His miracles served a specific purpose: To prove He was Who He claimed to be.

There are other curious scenes as well. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the movie is intended as a fictional account. In summary, Risen beautifully captures the message that the love of Jesus extends to everyone – even those who took part in nailing Him to the Cross. The reality is that we all took a part. The Bible teaches,

“[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 NIV)

Risen is entertaining and thought-provoking. If it piques the interest of viewers to explore the Bible for themselves, then it has done its job.

  • Rating for entertainment and quality: 4 stars.
  • Rating for Biblical accuracy: 1 star (at least they got the Resurrection right)

P.S. You may also enjoy Is Jesus Knocking on the Door of Your Heart? or Why Do We Dream For a Perfect World?

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