(…continued) The movie Risen has recently been released on DVD. Risen, as in, ‘Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.’ Most of the recent movies based on Bible stories have not been all that good, but this one is tremendous. It tells a great story, and it contains a powerful, true message, and you should see it.
Risen tells the story of the days following Easter, but it takes an interesting and creative approach. Jesus and the disciples make a few appearances, but they are not the main characters. The main character is Clavius, a Roman soldier who was at the crucifixion of Jesus. When the body of Jesus disappears Sunday morning, Pontius Pilate is convinced the body was stolen by the disciples. Pilate thinks the disciples want to spread the story that their leader had risen from the dead so they could keep their new religion going. This would cause all kinds of trouble for the Romans, so Pilate gives Clavius the task of finding the body to they could put an end to those rumors.
Guess what? He doesn’t find a dead body. The movie tells the story of his search and what he does find.
There are two important things about the movie.
First, the story is told not from the perspective of the disciples, but from the perspective an unbeliever, which makes it really interesting. Clavius is a rough and tough soldier and has no time for the religious nonsense of these backward Jews. He is an unbeliever, just like many people today who will see this movie.
Secondly, though this story of Clavius is fictional, the movie respects the Biblical story. When it touches on the New Testament accounts it is accurate, and integrates the Biblical material in a wonderful way.
Not only that, but the whole ‘missing body’ issue is a huge part of the historical evidence for the resurrection—that evidence I read about and pondered in those 25 books. We do need to ask why the disciples would want to steal the dead body of Jesus Why would they want to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus when they had absolutely nothing to gain by it and everything to lose? And why didn’t the Jews and the Romans simply produce the dead body of Jesus and end the Christian proclamation before it even began? How difficult would that have been? Yes, what we have to go on is primarily the New Testament, written by Christians—but again we must ask, why they would write what wasn’t true when they had absolutely nothing to gain by it. Blaise Pascal (who as an adult came to believe in Jesus after looking into it) said, “I tend to believe those who get their throats cut for what they write.” The disciples and New Testament writers did die from what they wrote and proclaimed, and they died in some awful ways.
This is how the case for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus is built. This is just small sample of the kinds of arguments that finally convinced me of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and they are presented in this movie in a creative, powerful, and entertaining way.
I am not familiar with the screenplay writer or director of this movie, and in what I have read about it, not much is said about their motives. But whether or not it was intentional, there is much historical validity in the movie’s compelling case for the resurrection of Jesus. Every Christian at one time or another wonders if this is all true. Doubts always have a way of creeping in. This movie will challenge you to “doubt your doubts.”
The central fact of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If there is no resurrection, we of all people are to be most pitied (as Paul said), and Christians are wasting their time in church Sunday mornings. But if Jesus did rise from the dead, that makes Christianity unique among all the religions of the world, and that gives us, to once again use Peter’s words, a firm and solid reason for the hope that we have. If this is true, it is the most important concern in your life, now and forever.
To view the two official trailers for Risen go to:
For more, read this blog by Eric Metaxas that I posted last winter when Risen first appeared in theaters:
Luke 24:1-3 — On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
Matthew 28:5-7 — The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
Matthew 28:11-13 — While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”
Romans 10:9 — If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
II Peter 1:16 — We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Almighty God, increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown. We pray this in the name of Jesus, our Risen Lord. Amen.