‘Jesus of Nazareth’ Film Review

April 8, 2021

In a six-hour long teleplay, Jesus of Nazareth attempts to portray the spiritual heights of a remarkably idiosyncratic people on the face of the Earth. The Jews have been percolating, if not amplifying, the radical idea of a supernatural Creator which personally involves Himself in the personal history of every human being since their story originally began more than three millenia ago. As the Evangelist Lauren Ravenhill remarked, however, it was four centuries of pitch black on the papyrus parchment before the spiritual awakening of the New Covenant. Most graciously, the filmmakers portray the Jewish people stridently different than the stigma of centuries of Christian illiterates who in vain seek to repudiate, no doubt oftentimes resentfully, the People’s belief in their special place in the World-Lord’s heart.


The film demonstrates a people perennially placing the spirit above the flesh – despite the follies of their ancestry well-documented in their scriptures, and the contemporary blights of concupiscence and idolatry which even effected the Chosen Ones not less than two generations removed from Joshua’s proud march to claim the land of Canaan for God’s Glory, preserving Abraham’s burial ground as an eternal keepsake of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of this everlasting dynasty. From which other people would God Almighty exercise once more His sovereign power to move humanity toward its predestined path of the Heavenly Way? Likewise, the Romans are treated in the film with gentility – cordial to the customs of the Jews, if ever so bothered by their eccentric standards. The Roman Historian Tacitus, after all, found them to be slothful for having a commandment to rest.


We see, then, in the place of the typical traps which plague every human society – the imbalances of human selfishness – the birth, life, and death of the “promised one”: the Messiah. It must immediately be remarked that the definition is one which is categorically Christian throughout the film. The Sanhedrin’s understanding of the Messiah as the “son of the Living God” is not of Jewish or Hebrew origin. This is, after all, the fundamental schism between the Christian Faith and the Hebrew; between those who remained faithful to the Old Covenant, and the ones with the belief in Kingdom Come through exercising faith in the Son of the Living God’s personal trial with his Teacher. To the Hebrew, the Messianic Redemption is one caused by the doubtless self-certainty in this God’s existence within every waking day in the human race forever. Faith turns into knowledge. Doubt of man’s significance simply fades away as the human race is irreversibly made brighter with the Knowledge of God covering the Earth like the sea (Isaiah 11:9) and humanity brought into a “pure language” (Zephaniah 3:9) – likely that of Galileo’s belief in the mathematical ordering principles of the natural cosmos, utterly dissolving false beliefs which, to this day, people still accord themselves by, requiring the need for human death; as opposed to the predestination of immortality and the resurrection of every living soul that has ever been granted the privilege of being seen in God’s sight; of every man, woman, boy, and girl given the chance to smile. Nevertheless, the epicenter of the moral idea of personal sacrifice to save humanity as the ultimate testimony of love is what has promulgated mankind toward the heights for almost two millenia.


It cannot be ignored that this film was produced – with the upmost aim at striking at eternity, with a supremely talented cast and a consistent theme of purity – in the most anti-Christ ergo selfish age in Christian history. And indeed, it is because of its efforts at resonating the affirmation of the faith, through its meticulous New Testament storytelling through minimal wonders, that makes it precious to behold for posterity. It provides the accurate rendition of Jesus of Nazareth’s rejection by the Children of Israel’s polity because of his conscientious agitation against the old; against bowing mindlessly to the Law of Moses, given as a permanent testimony to God’s personal liberation of His People from the material bondage of Egyptian worldly power through His Prophet-Hero, Moses son of Levi. It is in this agitation which forms the internal conflict with Jesus and his disciples – who we must again appreciate can only come from the seed of Abraham and his immutable mad devotion to the One True God – until belief is formed that this is indeed the manifestation of the prophesized Messiah. And thus the Church is born.


The motif of exasperation, of needing a saviour, especially during Roman imperium, is also notable. This is, after all, where the idea of subjugating “Judah” and his obedience to the God of Israel foments the syncretism with the Classical Western virtue of sacrificing oneself for truth over false beliefs marked by deceit. Indeed, to sacrifice oneself is found ubiquitously in the world’s wisdom literature, but never so intimately personally relatable. As I have remarked in my essay Towards an Understanding of Jesus Christ, Jesus’s willful death to purge the world of its darkness, paving the road to the World to Come, is appreciated by all members of society as an ideal to live by. To act with a pure mind and therefore to exercise perfect action is never always possible – and yet to aim with such loftiness with one’s bow raises the spirit of mankind regardless. That every individual possesses within his or her self – and let us remark the Virgin Mary and her chaste fidelity as a self-similar concept of purity – the possibility to extend perfection into man is the best representation of the better than good end of the Holy Creator and the Love of all His Children – regardless of Ancestry.


The belief that he is risen has given humanity belief that His will be done on Earth more than any other. And that is sufficient reason to enjoy the providential road as its pavement becomes ever more pristinely perceivable in man’s sight.  


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