By: Natalie Plumb
Concretely, I was given two tickets to go and see “Son of God.” Spiritually, I was given much more.
The movie debuted on a Friday in February. That same Friday, I had made other plans. After about 20 hours of actively looking for two people who wanted these tickets I had been given to see this movie, I still couldn’t seem to get rid of them. And I was running out of time.
Maybe, just maybe, I thought, God was poking at me to go.
Just to be sure (oh I of little faith), I asked a few more people if they wanted them, to no avail. So I gave in.
My “review” will neither agree nor disagree with the Washington Post column that gave the movie 1.5 stars (the same author gave no other movie that week such a low review), and the Catholic Herald column that points out both its shortcomings and its “solid catechesis.”
Because I didn’t go to see a good movie. That was not God’s goal in sending me at all. I went to “go and see” what He wanted me to see.
It was a small hint or whisper. But these small things speak loudly to a soul.
My second reaction was that the film was too jolting, switching too often from scene to scene.
But once I dropped my criticisms and mighty expectations, and as soon as I opened my heart to the message, rather than to the aesthetic of the film, Jesus’ hairline didn’t matter to me anymore. And the scenes began to sew together like fluid, brisk water.
I then was struck with a big reality that I already knew, but I had been forgetting:
Jesus is a (divine) person.
I noticed in the film…
His eyes were bright.
His emotions were passionate.
He gasped exasperatedly for final breaths on the wood of His cross.
His most human moments were when He spoke to His disciples. He took care of them. Jesus laughed and ate with them. He walked with them through dirty streets and immersed Himself in their friendship despite the filth of their sins.
Jesus was fully divine, but also human in every way except sin. Fully alive on our earth.
In the film’s depiction, after the Last Supper, Peter follows Jesus outside to proclaim (Mt. 26:35) that, “Rabbi, I will not fall away; I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus’ eyes light up with trust.
“Will you?” he asks, as his mouth curves into a smile.
Jesus begins to laugh softly with delight. He grabs Peter in a beautiful embrace, a whole moment of joy that at last, at least Peter will not abandon Him as He runs to His death. Peter will be there, Jesus hopes.
Tears reach Christ’s eyes.
His eyebrows contort with pity. Jesus looks up to Heaven while still holding Peter and is struck with realization: Peter will deny Him three times.
Dread covers His face. Jesus backs away from Peter and the tears become tears of pity before he walks away altogether.
Jesus mourns the loss of Peter in that moment. Because Jesus fully experienced human emotions. He trusted Peter as a sincere and honest friend.
He was a divine person, but His humanity is not lost in that.
Whether this encounter as it is depicted happened in this exact way…the point is moot. The recounting is beautiful because of what it represents: Jesus’ full humanity and full divinity.
If this film did nothing else, it reminded me of the full personhood of Christ Jesus. It showed me the Divine Person of Christ through His human nature. It showed me that He is fully present, here.
And, still, is He.
Natalie writes on Thursdays about faith, dating, relationships, and the in between. May her non-fiction stories and scenarios challenge you. May they help you laugh, cry, think and wonder.