Last week I went to see Risen at the cinema (its a 200km round trip to get to a cinema, so it pays to be a little discerning). I had seen trailers for the movie, but hadn’t actually read any reviews of it, nor did I know anyone who had seen it. Given the terrible job done with many movies on Biblical topics and themes (most recently Noah, and Gods and Kings) I was a little hesitant. In retrospect the lack of Christian press condemning the movie was a sign.
I found it a hugely encouraging movie, which deals with how someone would react to the idea, and then the reality, of the resurrection. Many of the questions that should come up (“Why doesn’t he reveal himself to everyone? Could we kill him again?”) do, although without the sort of simple answers some people expect in Christian movies. The inexplicable manner God chooses to reveal himself to the world remains both mysterious and wonderful, with the full impact of encountering the risen Jesus very well displayed.
Watching this movie, I started to think about how inexplicable Jesus and his resurrection is, and how it requires the Spirit’s work for someone to believe. People don’t come back from the dead, and its silly to believe that they do. Yet Jesus did come back from the dead. It was unavoidable to those who encountered him, no matter how difficult it was to comprehend. I think this movie captured that very well, in a way which mirrors the difficulty in becoming a Christian today. The reality of Jesus and his resurrection turns our understanding of the world, and the relative importance of the things in our lives, on their heads.
If ever you wanted a reminder that you need to pray for the conversion of friends and family, this is it. The power and identity of Jesus as creator and sustainer of the universe does not make sense to people who have a thoroughly secular or pagan understanding of the world. I was confronted again with how faith is a gift from God, and something to thank and praise him for.
I also appreciated the way in which this movie portrays some of the miracles of Jesus, from healing to disappearing to his ascension. That doesn’t make this portrayal correct, but is certainly provides a way of understanding what it would have looked like if you where there.
This is a great movie to prompt you to think about how being a Christian is about responding to Jesus. Not just Jesus’ teaching, but his identity at the crucified and risen saviour. I also think this is the sort of movie that Christians should go out of their way to see. We should be encouraging and rewarding studios that produce movies with encourage and engage with Christians in a respectful and thoughtful way.