Text by Henrylito D. Tacio
Photo from Wikipedia
Jesus Christ needs no introduction. He is perhaps the only non-fictional character whose life has been brought to life in movies.
Among the famous films about the Son of God include the following: The Passover Plot (1976), The Messiah (2007), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), The Gospel of Us (2012), The Passion of the Christ (2004), King of Kings (1961), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Risen (2016), Son of Man (2006), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Robe (1953), The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) and The Miracle Worker (2000).
The following actors have played Jesus Christ in movies: Claude Heater, Jeffrey Hunter, Donald Sutherland, Victor Garber, Brian Deacon, Wil Ferrell, Chris Sarandon, Mat Ranillo III, Glenn Carter, and Matthew Modine.
These famous actors also portrayed the Son of God in films: Liam Neeson, Willem Dafoe, John Hurt, Robert Powell, Christian Bale, Jim Caviezel, Ewan McGregor, Joaquin Phoenix, John Legend, and Max von Sydow.
No matter how successful the film was, taking the role of Jesus Christ has been no easy feat. Take the case of Robert Powell, who played the title role in Jesus of Nazareth. His photos, as Jesus Christ, according to Banthu Times, hung in churches, homes, cars, schools, offices, and many holy grottos all over the world “to drive off evil forces and attract good fortunes.”
This kind of adulation made the actor uneasy. As he himself admitted, “I never cease to say and I repeat it to the world since 1977. I am not Jesus Christ; I am just an actor and British comedian. I am tired of seeing my photos displayed in places of worship and other places for worship. I just make a film for a living. Burn my picture and worship the only God in truth! I am just an actor – Jesus is Lord!”
The Christian world celebrates two special events about Him: the day He was born (Christmas) and the day He died (Lenten). The Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas in the world; it starts celebrating the occasion at the start of the “ber” months: September. It ends on the day of Epiphany (January 6).
While Christmas is celebrated with too much merrymaking and food, the Lenten season is different. Few foods are available for consumption; in fact, some Christians practice fasting. It is the complete opposite of Christmas.
On Good Friday, everyone is reminded of how Jesus Christ died on the cross. According to all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Jesus was brought to Golgotha, “the place of skull,” and crucified with two thieves, with the charge of claiming to be “King of the Jews,” and the soldiers divided his clothes before he bowed his head and died.
“Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was the most horrifying, painful, and disgraceful form of capital punishment used in the ancient world,” wrote Mary Fairchild for learnreligions.com. “This method of execution involved binding the victim’s hands and feet and nailing them to a cross of wood.”
The word “crucifixion” comes from the Latin crucifixio or crucifixus, which means “fixed to a cross.” Before the actual crucifixion, prisoners were tortured by flogging, beating, burning, racking, mutilation, and abuse of the victim’s family.
In the afternoon of Good Friday, most Filipinos go to churches to hear the seven last words of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s first cross utterance was: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This was closely followed by: “Verily, I say to you, today shall you be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
At the crucial moment of His life, some family members and friends paid a visit to Him. When He saw them, he told Mary (His mother), “Woman, behold your Son,” and then, turning to his disciple John, he urged him to take care of her and said, “Behold your mother.” Read John 19:26,27 for further details.
Here are the four remaining last words He uttered: “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (John 19:30); and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). After saying all these, he perished.
It was a slow and painful death. Dr. Alexander Metherell – a consultant to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health of Bethesda, Maryland – interviewed by Lee Strobel for his book, The Case for Christ, explained how Christ died:
“Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reason is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; basically, in order to exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. In doing so, the nail would tear through the foot, eventually locking up against the tarsal bones.
“After managing to exhale, the person would then be able to relax down and take another breath in. Again, he’d have to push himself up to exhale, scraping his bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross. This would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take over, and the person wouldn’t be able to push up and breathe anymore.
“As the person slows down his breathing, he goes into what is called respiratory acidosis – the carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved as carbonic acid, causing the acidity of the blood to increase. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat. In fact, with his heart beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death…. Jesus died of cardiac arrest.”
Jesus, however, was not just an ordinary human being when He came into this world. He defied what we all know and do.
In chemistry, Jesus turned water into wine (the first miracle he did during a wedding in Cana).
In biology, He was born without the normal conception. His mother, Mary, was a virgin lady and was supposed to get married when she became pregnant.
In physics, he disproved the law of gravity when He ascended into heaven. In economics, He disproved the law of diminishing return by feeding 5,000 men two fish and five loaves of bread.
In medicine, He cured the sick and the blind without administering a single dose of drugs. In history, He is the beginning and the end.
In government, He said that He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, and Prince of Peace. And in religion, He said no one comes to the Father except through Him.
The name Jesus is derived from a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, or in full Yehoshuah (Jehovah is deliverance). The title Christ is derived from the Greek christos, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (anointed one), or Messiah.
“Christ” was used by Jesus’ early followers, who regarded him as the promised deliverer of Israel, and later was made part of Jesus’ proper name by the church, which regards him as the redeemer of all humanity.
In short, Jesus is the greatest man in history. An anonymous author described Him in this manner: “Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master. He had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. He had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.”
Jesus Christ came into this world to save the lost. As John 3:16 said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”