Thursday, March 14, 2013

Watching the Gospel of John

Can I talk about the film adaptation Gospel of John without gushing? I'm not sure. I just love it that much. What I love most about it is that it is word-for-word the ENTIRE gospel of John. The translation chosen for the film is the Good News Bible. As one of the simpler, most-basic translations in English, it does make it accessible for a wide audience range. The film--like the gospel--is intentional, evangelistic. (A good thing, a very good thing in my opinion.) The Scripture is enough--more than enough; you can't improve upon it.

The Gospel of John has always been a great why gospel. Why did Jesus come? Why did he face so much opposition? Why did he have to die? Why believe? Why have hope for this life and the next?

John was written "in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life." (John 20:30-31) All twenty-one chapters of John line up with that goal. In other words, all twenty-one chapters tell readers here is why you should believe that Jesus is the Son of God, why you should put your faith in him; He is who He says He is, He is the I AM.

I thought the film did a great job in showing why people would be drawn to Jesus, why it would be so easy to LOVE him, to follow him, to worship and adore Him, to believe that He is the Son of God. Here we see a charismatic Jesus. But. At the same time, I thought the film did a great job in showing why he faced so much opposition. This was not a mild, timid Jesus. People may try to make Jesus "just a good man" or "a good teacher." But here you will see his offensiveness reflected. He was loving, kind, and compassionate to those who saw themselves as blind, as weak, as in need of a Savior. But he wasn't afraid of outspoken confrontation either.

I recently read a wonderful book called Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian. One thing I appreciated about The Gospel of John was that it kept Jesus at the center, or as Spurgeon might say the "top and bottom" of its theology. It didn't try to add anything to the message of Jesus. Another film I recently tried to watch did not do this well. It was Jesus + Herod + Herod's Wife + Herod's step-daughter/niece + Judas + Peter + some zealots + some Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes + the Sanhedrin, etc. The list goes on and on. The film didn't focus on Jesus enough. Instead of focusing on Jesus' preaching or teaching or parables, or Jesus' miracles and ministry, it instead chose to keep adding in scene after scene of things of lesser importance. For example, Judas gets a lot of time on screen. Almost from the start, viewers see he has an agenda of his own, an agenda he never forgets about, an agenda that he carries with him as he "follows" Jesus. The focus on Judas in conversation with others, in my opinion, is a distraction. There's definitely a different focus or purpose to this film. On the plus side, it does give time to many of the other disciples, giving personality to them.

Highlights from the Gospel of John:
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died! But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for."
"Your brother will rise to life," Jesus told her.
"I know," she replied, "that he will rise to life on the last day."
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?'
"Yes, Lord!" she answered. "I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (John 11:20-27)
"Do not be worried and upset," Jesus told them. "Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. You know the way that leads to the place where I am going."
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; so how can we know the way to get there?"
Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Now that you have known me," he said to them, "you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and you have seen him." (John 14:1-7)
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior. Those who believe in the Son are not judged; but those who do not believe have already been judged, because they have not believed in God's only Son. (John 3:14-18)

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