Jesus Christ rises again, and then what?
March 3, 2016
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Among a sizable selection of films that tell the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Risen focuses in on a chapter that is often glossed over. An Easter time favorite of Christians since 2004, The Passion of the Christ is noted as a moving production of the Stations of the Cross, and Jesus’ death and resurrection.
While The Passion ends with Jesus exiting the tomb and a sense of triumph and joy, Risen positions the same event much earlier on in the film. From the resurrection on, the film examines a question unaddressed by the film industry until now: what happened then?
Christians are familiar with the Romans’ and the Sanhedrin’s take on Jesus Christ – he threatened them. After all, that is why he was crucified. Risen lets the audience look through the eyes of a fictional, brutal Roman soldier named Clavius.
An unlikable protagonist, Clavius is a far reach from the usual protagonist of similar films: Simon Peter or Jesus Christ himself. Clavius would be a “serial sinner,” if there were such an expression. He orders the execution of Jesus in the movie. As far as sins go, you can’t get much worse. However, Clavius’ destructive lifestyle of killing and conquering has a surprising end-goal: peace.
The rumor that Jesus would rise again from the dead on the third day terrified the Sanhedrin. They didn’t believe it would happen but believed Jesus’ disciples would steal his body and make it look as though the prophecy had been fulfilled. They feared the “movement” Jesus had begun – a fear which was not warranted. Nonetheless, ordered by the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate assigns Clavius the task of finding the “stolen” body of Jesus to debunk what they believed to be a dangerous myth.
Clavius’ character is very relatable in that each of us tends to sin more than we would like. “To be happy” is a common but admirable answer to the question, “if there is one thing you want in life, what is it?” Seeing the story of Jesus Christ unfold through the eyes of someone similar to ourselves, an imperfect sinner, makes the film and Christ’s message that much more personal.
Shifting the lens slightly later in the timeline of events, Risen presents a deeper conclusion than joy and faith and the resurrection. Conveying Jesus’ mission and message of love, Risen reminds Christians of their call to spread his message throughout the world, through their daily lives and their actions.