The movie opened up with the main character tired and worn out. You could tell that this man had a lot on his mind as he sought refuge in a strangers home. The man notices the ring on his finger is a signet ring for a Roman. As he looks at his ring with a look of lost he starts to tell his story.
The story begins with him working under Pontius Pilate. A high ranking Roman solider. He comes off as a man who is strong in character, but wishing and wanting a life away from the war, violence that plagues the life he lives. Soon, you get the impression that you will be living this part of his life through his eye’s.
So far, I am thinking that this movie gets really historically accurate, not just with the violent past, but with the people. Taking this view in mind, I find that the way it starts off just at the death of Jesus is an interesting twist. The conversation that sends him there is met with Pilate ordering him to watch over the unrest of the unstable environment and the eye’s Tiberius had on him to keep the Jewish State in control. This is a very important historical fact that many scholars believed weighted on his decision to have Jesus executed.
He is dispatched to make sure that everything is in control. More importantly, Pilate who met this Nazarene gave the hint of the position he was in putting an innocent man to death. Pilate mentioned the pressure from Rome and what would happen if he didn’t keep the piece in the region. A fate alluded to in this movie that he will face in future history, but not in this movie. What becomes apparent, they don’t know his name for a long time in this movie. He is called the “Nazarene”. It shows how unaware they are of this man.
Once he shows up he is looked upon the “Nazarene”. He speaks to the Roman solider who tells this commanding officer the words in scripture “This man is truly innocent”. In the beginning of this movie you get hints that supernatural events have transpired. Even quiet hints, something this movie is good at. When the main character looks upon the dead “Nazarene”. The Nazarene’s dead eye’s pierces his soul.
Soon the resurrection happens, but you don’t see it. What you see is a man trying to obey the commands of Pilate as he hopes to make it up the ranks far enough to find the peace he is looking for. He is called to Pilate to see an interchange between him and the corrupt religious leaders. You get the picture that the Romans were aware of the hypocrisy of the religious establishment. A good parallel the movie gets right to what we experience with the religious establishments today. That, it was well known and had a huge effect on the governments view of all Jews. You are left with the impression that if they were not so corrupt that they may have had a better life with the Roman government.
Through the mid part of the movie the man searches through primitive “CSI” work to uncover the body of the Nazarene. What stands out is that when they discover the name of this Nazarene. They identify him not as Jesus but Yeshua. This is a startling small point the movie makes. That it strays from the Churches identity of Jesus but stays true to a more historical interpretation.
As the movie continues, not being able to find the body, he starts his quest to stop the spread of this “revolt”. Although, what he finds is something different on his journey. You start to piece together the character of the figurative Yeshua. At one point when interviewing a disciple he asked what would happen if he met this Yeshua. The solider wanted to know how he would war. The disciple replied that he would call him brother. You get this since that the solider is confused on this and dismisses him. You also get the message through all of the interviews that this Yeshua did not hang out with the elite but with those who would be rejected in society.
Soon, the solider through running the men down runs into Yeshua. The movie does a good job with the person who plays Yeshua’s part. A man who you would expect to live in that area and time. Looking through the eye’s of the Roman, you sense fear but also curiosity. He goes at it alone and starts to join these 11 followers. He asks them questions and watches. But the moment you start to get close to Yeshua he disappears and you must go to a different location. Through this discovery you realize, the disciples don’t know who Yeshua is but just the messiah. It hints to a supernatural person who cannot be defined. Trinitarians and those who hold to a strict human “Jesus” would have issues in this movie because it doesn’t fall into either direction. The movie begs the question but doesn’t answer it. Although, he does come off more divine, but more directs the questions to questioning yourself and your standing with Yeshua rather than his identity. That is very reflective in the texts. In that, you just want to follow this man.
Yeshua is shown as the person who would sit next to you in a bar while you smoke a cigarette. A person who would be with you regardless of your condition. While following Yeshua, you see that he is never concerned and that he is in control of everything while everything falls apart. It comes to this point in the movie when the Roman Solider almost willfully forgets what he was doing and just follows. He is soon befriended by Peter, in this through all of his questioning Peter of who Yeshua is, you just get a “I don’t know” answer. This would upset many Christians but I believe this is very reflective of what was truly going on in scripture. All they knew was that he was the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah, and beyond that they were clueless. These questions were mulled over after he left shown in the later letters of Paul and John. So, the answer to them was to just follow him. It was not his power that brought them to him but his eminence love that shown through the movie. You could say it was just his mere presence.
Finally, near the end of the movie, you have the Roman Solider talking to Yeshua. The interchange was short but moving. The solider told him that he was there when he died. Yeshua gave him the impression he was there too, just not in his body. Then Jesus spoke to him recounting the exact words he spoke to Pilate earlier in the film about him wanting to make it to a point of piece in his life. You get this sense that Yeshua just didn’t have the understanding because of some revelation and not just because he was there at that moment in some supernatural means, but It was more of Yeshua knowing him more than he knew himself. Through simple words, Yeshua told him that he was the piece that he was looking for.
After everything was done, Yeshua has ascended and everyone is going out fulfilling the great commission almost directly quoted by Yeshua. Peter comes to the Roman Solider and asks him to join him on spreading the good news. The Roman Solider gracefully declines and you get this sense that all was for nothing. The movie comes back to the beginning where he ended up telling this story. There is almost a sense that there is something drastically different. Right at the end without the host asking, he gives up his signet ring to pay for the food. Before, as a Roman Solider it would be free and taken at will. It symbolizes something more than most people would realize if not knowing Roman culture and what the ring means. This Roman Solider didn’t “follow the christians” but what he did was something more, something outside of church. The ring symbolized who he is or more so who he was. It was his own identity being laid down. Think of how ever you identify yourself. It is as if you say “I am” and then fill in the blanks “I am an American, Caucasian, male ”. You may be surprised I put “American” in that list but to the Roman citizen, being a Roman was more than a place where you live, it was who you are. In a way you could say at the end of the movie he stopped being Roman. This doesn’t mean he was converted but that he was forever changed by Yeshua. He was so changed by Yeshua that his identity changed, he no longer was who he thought he was and now he is on this path to discover who this Yeshua is and who he really is.
In review, I believe this has been one of or “thee” best “Christian” movies about Jesus produced. In some ways it is better than the Passion of the Christ. Although, these two movies had different objectives. This movie captures at the heart who Jesus is better than those who try to tell the story though his own life. I believe the reason for it is that this movie is seen through the eye’s of someone like most of us. We are not following Jesus through the words of scripture but through the eye’s of someone who doesn’t believe and was there. That difference is why it is so good. It is something we can identify with.
So, that is why I enjoy the movie so much. I feel much like that Roman, I don’t call or identify myself as a “Christian” nor can I say I believe, for the simple reason I don’t know what I believe. Although, like him I find peace with this Jesus. I am a skeptic in many respects. This movie didn’t change me back into being a “Christian” but it helped me see a little bit of who I was, where I was and where I am now. I really don’t like speaking of what I believe because I don’t know what I believe and it becomes a emotionally charged conversation to those who are close to me for such fate of me should I choose to walk away completely. I can’t explain it, but in some way this movie has done both drawn me and at the same time pushed me away from this person of “Jesus”. All I can really say, what ever I end to, if I ever get there, will not be what I was.