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Resurrection dramatizes the lives of Jesus’ disciples in the days following the Crucifixion
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The Apostle John reckoned the world itself could not contain all the books needed to recount every detail of Jesus’ earthly ministry. A 90-minute movie won’t tell the whole story either, but it can illustrate a particular Biblical truth.
In Resurrection (unrated and streaming on Discovery+) from Son of God producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the truth in view is the historically pivotal transformations of Jesus’ disciples from cowards to co-workers in God’s kingdom. Splendid sets, sharp costumes, and strong acting support the solid message. A few questionable subplots and some tepid encounters with the risen Savior are minor quibbles. Four violent scenes constitute the only parental cautions.
The film, drawing on archival footage filmed before the pandemic, starts with Jesus’ trial and moves into a graphic crucifixion. The story’s strength comes in conveying the disillusionment the followers of Jesus (played by Juan Pablo Di Pace) feel seeing Roman and Jewish authorities apparently vanquish their Master. For the first time, I heard Jesus’ utterance “It is finished” not as He meant it—a humble declaration of mission accomplished—but as Peter (Adam Levy), John (Babou Ceesay), and the others might have regarded those words that Calvary afternoon: We are finished. Doomed. In the film, only Mary (Greta Scacchi), Jesus’ mother, holds out hope.
Resurrection also imagines the behind-the-scenes religious and political intrigues. Caiaphas (Richard Coyle) and Joseph of Arimathea (Kevin Doyle) argue whether placing Jesus’ body in the latter’s own tomb has fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that the Suffering Servant would be buried “with a rich man in His death.” Pilate (Vincent Regan) and Caiaphas begrudgingly team up to find “the Nazarene’s corpse” and avert a PR nightmare. (Good luck with that!) The disciples run and hide from Roman squads breaking down doors to find them, and Peter rebuffs a Jewish militant’s repeated offers to join forces.
Splendid sets, sharp costumes, and strong acting support the solid message.
Amid the fictional dramatics, the film does hit Biblical highlights, including the closed-door reunion eight days after the Resurrection, breakfast on the seashore, and the Ascension. But it also weaves in some ill-fitting threads, such as events in the film’s final 10 minutes surrounding Peter’s healing of the crippled beggar (Acts 3). The wife of Caiaphas tries to bribe the beggar to declare his healing was faked. A public showdown between Peter and Caiaphas ensues. What will the beggar say? The film almost suggests the nascent Christian religion hangs on his testimony.
While Resurrection captures the disciples’ fears well, some of the disciples react with surprising composure the first time they see Jesus alive again. For example, at the tomb on Sunday morning, Jesus calls Mary Magdalene (Chipo Chung) by name. She turns and says, “Rabbi!” The film immediately cuts away to another scene. Yet John 20 implies Mary threw herself at Jesus and clung to Him—an embrace every believer is longing for. If ever Christian cinema could indulge a feel-good moment, that would have been it. And when Thomas beholds the scars in Jesus’ hands and side, he exclaims, “My Lord.” That’s it—no “and my God.” Why omit such a theologically weighty confession of Christ’s deity?
Despite a few shortcomings, inevitable when fallen people (reviewers included) speak about a holy God, Resurrection tells a story worth sharing.
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