This far, we’ve questioned should the Bible be rated PG, PG-13, R, or even X? We’ve discussed some cinematic features of the Bible miniseries, and why this is important and how it may impact our understanding of the Bible. We’ve also covered the debate between the similarities and differences from the biblical text. We will not cover the controversy of whether Satan and President Obama look alike. For what it’s worth – I believe there was no symbolism or any intent for the such – people are making a large deal from a biased political view. Well, ‘nuff said on that…
We’ve also reflected on the stories of Moses, Samson, and David. If you missed The Bible Epic Miniseries Old Testament 1 and The Bible Epic Miniseries Old Testament 2, the first two posts in this series following The Bible epic miniseries on The History Channel then be sure to check em out.
The Bible epic miniseries during weeks three through five covered the Bible story from the the birth of Jesus through the death of Jesus’ disciples. The letter’s of the New Testament were given reference along with the book of Revelation.
Ratings Sky High
The Bible rocketed to America’s number one TV show this spring. It truly turned out to be an epic show. During the first three weeks The Bible premier showing attracted over 13 million viewers, and the finale ended with near 12 million viewers. This was quite the turnout for a Bible movie.
The Bible Reading Plan on the YouVersion Bible App
I really appreciated the push for reading the Bible which came along with the TV miniseries. I had already been using the YouVersion Bible App for quite some time, but I was excited to follow the reading plans which accompanied the TV showings. This kept the stories and the messages in my mind each day throughout the week. This was excellent! It helped me to further internalize the stories and messages – a suggestion made in the bible called meditation (thinking things over day and night / talking about them often).
I received many new insights into the biblical stories as a result from reading and watching the TV series: too many to tell all of them here. I would like to share a couple of my favorites in connection to some scenes of the TV series.
The Bible – Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus
During the showing in week three, I was struck by Joseph’s encounter with the angel. It seemed as if his encounter with the angel could have been more similar to a daydream. I appreciated how this was portrayed. Daydreams can be a way God communicates with us. I’m not saying “it’s all good” to those who constantly stare off into space, but they may be a channel God uses to communicate with us. A more bible sounding term may be “vision.” Daydreams or visions – they may be a God experience.
I also appreciated the scene when Mary, Joseph, and little Jesus were traveling to Jerusalem. They stopped to wonder what was happening because they saw the many crosses with those executed at Golgotha.
The Bible – Call of Matthew
I felt this was a master stroke. The biblical text used in this call of Matthew is found in Luke 18:9-14:
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (MSG)
This dialogue was portrayed as being part of Mathew’s (a tax collector) call to follow Jesus. It was as if Jesus knew this happened to Matthew at some point in his life. We see Matthew almost reliving this experience as he whispers the words – with tears in his eyes – to himself while Jesus is speaking.
This may or may not have been part of what happened in history. The two situations (Matthew’s call and the tax collector parable) may have been two separate events. However, this scene brought a connection to the characters and to the tension they were experiencing. I feel this connection and tension is sometimes missed in our reading of the Scriptures.
The Bible – The High Priest
I discovered a different side of the High Priest than I have seen before. The miniseries seemed to emphasize the High Priest’s concern of Pontus Pilate stopping Passover as a result of the presence of Jesus. His chief worry seemed to be the welfare of his people; this welfare was jeopardized by the buzz of Jesus. “One man for the future of God’s nation…” I believe is the quote from the High Priest when justifying Jesus’ crucifixion.
To achieve this protection against Pilate’s anger being roused, the death of Jesus was the only option. The High Priest seemed to be a schemer. He seemed to halfway deceive Judas into betraying Jesus. He seemed to put things together in order to have his way. Even his royal temple guard seemed unsure of some decisions, to which the High Priest snipped away and used his political position as leverage for his actions.
It wasn’t until watching this miniseries that I discovered something else quite scandalous:
Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him. (John 12:9-11 MSG)
This was a man raised from the dead – and they wanted to murder him! It seems odd, crazy, ironic.
Nonetheless, the miniseries gave a fresh insight into the High Priest. Yes he wanted to kill Jesus – No that was not the only motivating factor or his only desire. He was not set on murdering Jesus only because of his claims to being the Son of God.
Why was he always referenced as Paul of Tarsus in the miniseries? Why didn’t they mention anything about his name being changed once he met Jesus? To clear the misconception – Saul was his Hebrew name, Paul was his Greek name. Paul did not receive a new name from Jesus after his conversion experience.
I enjoyed everything about Paul presented in The Bible. He was brazen, rash, and zealous. He wanted to silence the teaching of Jesus being the Messiah. He murdered thousands – one of whom being Stephen as we watched him be stoned to death in the miniseries. Then he gets his socks knocked off when Jesus shows up to meet him (after being raised from the dead). As a result, he becomes blind. Then a follower of Jesus finds and heals Paul as commanded. Paul now starts his new life, but at first his old reputation haunts him. He then is willing to die for his faith and belief in Jesus the Christ.
The Bible – Being A Disciple
All of the early disciples were murdered – or martyred – for their faith in Jesus. In fact, they expected to suffer, expected to be ridiculed, and stayed committed (or proved their commitment) to God when things “went wrong.” Jesus said:
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrased with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarassed with you when he arrives with all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels. This isn’t, you realize, pie in the sky by and by. (Luke 9:23-26 MSG)
Another translation says it this way:
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23 NIV)
Will you pick up your cross and follow Him? He is alive.
Question: What did you learn these past five weeks? How did you grow as a person? Did you start to read any more of the Bible? Did you give thought to becoming a follower of Christ?
I am excited to hear that the producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are already working on another Bible project. Burnett stated in an interview He and Roma “love the Bible, love Jesus, and are committed.” Read the interview over at The Christian Post.
For interesting videos and interviews of the actors check out http://bible.screenitfirst.com/.
You can find out more about The Bible epic miniseries by visiting http://www.bibleseries.tv/.
You can order The Bible epic miniseries on DVD or Blu-Ray by clicking here.