I was very pleased with Part III of the series. There were actually times when I was moved emotionally in this one, sadness when the people of Israel had to suffer for their disobedience and tearful appreciation for God's preservation of the nation against the back drop of incredibly harsh circumstances. Some of the scenes were uncomfortably graphic, yet clearly and powerfully representative of the evil that can be exhibited out of an unbelieving heart and the consequences of sin when believers are disobedience.
A clear example of a disobedient king and the consequences that result, not only for him and his family, but for all of the people of Israel. The removal of the people of Israel from the land after so much sacrifice had been made centuries before to secure it, was powerfully displayed in the sacking of Jerusalem by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
I've always been moved by the ministry of Jeremiah. He was a preacher of God's Word, but very few people listened to him. His own people wanted to kill him because of the message he preached. But he continued to preach it in spite of the persecution he received. He looked a little ragged to me though. Guess we have our own ideas about how our heros in the Bible should look. It's a lesson again about the importance of the message over the appearance of the person. The series is doing a good job with this I think.
The realisitic character of Daniel is well presented. He was definitely a man who had great faith in God, but he is also presented as one who was very human, with his fears and questions at times. Watching his friends thrown in to the furnace and himself being thrown into the lions den had to envoke a whole series of human emotions. But through it all, he trusted in God and God delivered both he and his friends. I just thought this was a very realistic treatment of Daniel, yet true to the account in the Scriptures. I got chills when Daniel told of his dream of the coming Messiah and His eventual reign from Jerusalem. Some of Daniel's prophecies have been fulfilled. But there are still many yet to be. What a day that will be in the future when Jesus rules from Jerusalem!
What an apt depiction of this evil, grotesque, dispictable, brutal king. History describes him this way and they did a great job in the presentation showing this. The guy who played Herod deserves an oscar. His handling of the wiseman, the order for his scholars to search the Scriptures to find out where Jesus was to be born, the killing of all the male babies in Bethlehem, the beheading of John the Baptist, the execution of his own son, all this revealed what a completely godless man he was, yet given the title King of the Jews by the Romans.
John the Baptist
Not a whole lot depicted about him in the presentation, but the Scriptures account of his powerful presentation of his message, yet his humility when in the presence of Jesus, all came through. I was glad to see they had John baptizing by immersion. That is consistent with the meaning of the greek word for baptism and the details of the accounts in Scripture about where John baptized, "where there was much water". It's obvious this is the method he used. There could be some confusion about why the people were being baptized. The Scriptures indicate it was a baptism of repentance, meaning the repentance that was necessary for the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. It was not a cleansing in the spiritual sense resulting in salvation. Like all baptisms in the Scripture, they are an outward testimony of what has already taken place in the heart. In this case, the decision that was made by the Isrealites was to be baptized as a testimony to what they believed in their hearts, that the Messiah was coming and that repentance needed to accompany that. This could have been made a bit clearer in the presentation I believe.
Joseph and Mary
This was the part that moved me considerably. The utter humanity of Joseph and Mary came through so well, their fears, their doubts at times, yet there faith in God when the truth was revealed to them. That journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Mary so close to delieverying Jesus, it just moved me to think of the power of God so consentrated in this young, scared, lonely, yet committed couple. And that manger scene, particularly when the wise men showed up, that was incredible. Oh, I know it's not like we envision it with all the depictions we are accustomed to at Christmas time now. It was probably much more like it was depicted in the presentation. I just thought it was so realistic and so overwhelming that the God who created the universe, humbled himself to be born in this way, yet recognized by so few. The reading of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the birth of Christ was awesome. Do you realize that prophecy was made 700 years before Christ was born?! And when the wise men bowed down, the look on Mary and Joseph's faces clearly showed they were just beginning to realize the significance of who their baby was. Incredible what was going on in that manger that night! God was injecting Himself in the midst of a sinful world, to offer Himself and His grace to save us from our sins. If that doesn't move you, especially as a Christian, nothing will. This part was well done.
When it comes to portraying Jesus in film, I don't think anything would be adequate. But this was sufficient in my opinion. Jesus' humilty comes through in His baptism and His temptation experience showed he was fully human as well as fully God. His suffering in the wilderness was well depicted and the three temptations by Satan were true to the text of Scripture. Well done I believe. You're probably already aware of the controversy over who Satan looked like. I have to admit, there is sort of a resemblence to Barak Obama, but I want to believe this was not intentional. In fact, the producers of the series are admitted Barak Obama supporters, so make of it what you will. I think it is unfortunate that many critics and detractors of the series will use this to attack it. But in the end, I hope it does not interfere with the message.
Jesus and Peter,
Again, this encounter is not exactly as I pictured it in my mind's eye, but it was fairly accurate with regards to the basics of the Scriptural account. I thought it interesting that Jesus is shown examining a rock when he first confronts Peter. Jesus would later refer to Peter's statement of faith in who Jesus was as the rock upon which He would build His church. It should be interesting to see how Peter is portrayed in the sections to come.
Part III may have been my favorite part so far, although all has been good. Again, the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding it was powerful for me. As I have said before, I just pray that unbelievers who see this will be moved to find Bibles and open them to read the truth about the Person of Jesus and the salvation He provides. Part IV is this Sunday night. Only two parts left. Try to watch it if you can and watch for my blog next week. God bless.
Pastor Chuck Jarvis
Valley View Community Church
The thing that struck me in the part about of Joseph and Mary was that they seemed in awe of the Three Wisemen when they arrived. Their baby is the Savior of the World and they were in awe of 3 men? They portrayed Harod just as I see him in my mind. Evil, Evil man. I thought it was really good this week.