IF HOLLYWOOD TEACHES us anything–which is very, very little, it teaches us not to trust how it portrays any real-life character. Writers, directors, and producers all have their personal say in how an individual is brought to the big screen. “Based on a true story” is the motion picture industries’ way of saying: “We are using copious amounts of creative license and editorial bias to show you what we’d like you to see about this particular person in history.”
I remember reading years ago about the 13th century Scottish hero, William Wallace, often referred to today as “Brave Heart.” Hollywood gave him a rather extensive facelift. Truth be known, the William Wallace of the silver screen and the William Wallace of history are two radically different entities. They ain’t even second cousins.
But nowhere is Hollywood’s disposition towards real people more evident than in the life of our Lord. Cinema and pop culture has morphed Him into a rather stolid, dull, and largely unemotional being. He’s a disconnected, Vulcan-like therapist for broken and hurting folks. What’s worse is that He is depicted as moving in and among the ancient masses with the energy and enthusiasm, forgive me, of a baked potato. You see, Hollywood wants you to think of the Jesus of history as obtuse at best and dull and out of touch at worst. In other words, He is uncaring and irrelevant.
But friends, the Bible shows the Messiah to be quite different from how He is rendered in modern media.
The Jesus of Scripture is a man of intense passion and feeling:
- Watch Him overthrow the tables of the moneychangers in the temple in Matthew 21. Did Jesus care about sin, hypocrisy and greed? Was He ever aroused by transgression and iniquity?
- Watch Him shed tears at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11. Did Jesus feel deeply at funerals or was he an emotional vegetable? Did He weep or was he devoid of affection?
- Watch Him interact with the crowds of sick folks in Matthew 14. The Holy Spirit said Jesus was “moved with compassion.” Does that sound like He didn’t care and that he was unaffected by pain?
- Listen to Him lift his broken voice on Gethsemane’s hill as He pours out his heart to God in Hebrews 5. The NKJV describes his laments as “vehement” (NKJV), while the ESV describes them as “loud cries and tears.” Does this sound like a man who is incapable of sensitivity?
Our Lord was no half-human android. He had heart, He felt strongly, and He was passionate!
Give Hollywood its credit. It knows how to appeal to the carnal and it knows how to make (and lose) LOTS of money.
It just doesn’t know how to deal with the real Son of Man.