Johannine Jesus

Review by Clint Wilson

A couple of weeks ago a grandmother received a call from her grandson who asked if she would be interested in seeing a movie with him. Like many grandmothers, she is a seamstress of generations, and keenly fond of her grandchildren. Imagine her surprise when her grandson asked not to see The Lego Movie but Son of God.

Son of God
Directed by Christopher Spencer
20th Century Fox/LightWorkers Media

Imagine also this woman as one who longs for all of her grandchildren to be baptized and grow in their faith. She clears her schedule with evangelistic gusto and heads over to pick up her grandson. She is surprised and delighted when his sisters, two cute and peppy elementary students, ask to come along. Will this movie spur opportunities for catechesis, or even more? After all, the film will focus on the entry of the infinite into the finite for a full 138 minutes.

The woman was my mom, and those grandchildren were my nephew and nieces. I admit that I have mixed feelings about Son of God. It will surely bless many, but it could have been much better. The scenery often strays from the corresponding geography of biblical accounts. The computer-generated imagery, especially of the Temple and Jerusalem, is lame, while the Blessed Virgin Mary’s nose seems plastically perfected. The narrative is choppy, presumably because many of the scenes were pasted together from an earlier television rendering, and the seams remain visible.

But the film commendably alights on the Johannine motif of Jesus as a heavenly Son, placing it in the “high Christology” school. And viewing the life and ministry of Jesus within the larger narrative of the Apostle John, finally from Patmos, telescopically situates the work of this heavenly Son beyond his public earthly ministry. In other words, the film underlines and animates the divinity of Jesus Christ.

I probably won’t see the movie again nor take my youth group or college students to see it. I’m more inclined to take them to Noah or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. But I am glad Son of God was released. It delivers the gospel basics and will, I am sure, serve the kingdom in countless ways around the globe. Even if it only made a difference in the lives of three little kids I’m fond of — which, by the way, it did — it would be worthwhile.

The Rev. Clint Wilson is a curate at the Church of St. David of Wales in Denton, Texas.

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