You can find a movie about Jesus that features almost anything depending on your wants. Some Jesus films follow the gospels closely, while some Jesus movies play fast and loose with the biblical narrative, sometimes in sinful ways, making us see orthodox ideas in new ways. These Jesus films give a bit of everything, helping you think about Jesus’ work and life in new ways. Here are some surprising Jesus movies that everyone should see.
"Sight & Sound: Jesus"
Sight & Sound has been producing plays based on biblical stories for years, but “Jesus” is the most recent play filmed and released online. Like most productions, it favors big-set designs, features musical numbers, and takes a fun for the entire family approach, and the humor is purposefully cheesy. Musical theater fans will argue how this production compares to “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but this film doesn’t try to compete with more famous musicals, nor does it update the story for new audiences. It tells the story with some grand spectacle and intentionally silly humor. These elements make it a modern Jesus film that the whole family will love.
"The Gospel According to St. Matthew"
Sometimes, the best biblical movies avoid spectacle and use something uncommon to make us rethink how we see the story. “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” avoids grand music, performances, or special effects. It’s almost designed to look like one of Jesus’ disciples was capturing footage on a personal camera as events unfold. The smaller scale pushes viewers to focus on what Jesus is doing, which, in this movie, is mainly challenging people. This film may focus on a side of Jesus that we rarely think about for a good reason. Emphasizing Jesus’ position as a challenger reminds us that Jesus was a revolutionary. “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” is an intentionally low-scale movie that reminds us that Jesus was more than a religious teacher.
"The Book of Life"
Sometimes, the most exciting movies about Jesus put him in fictional settings, drawing out biblical themes differently. “The Book of Life” takes this approach further than most. It follows Jesus appearing in New York City on the evening of December 31, 1999. His mission is to start the final judgment, opening the seven seals. While He contemplates whether to open the seals, Satan tries to find Him. Other characters talk with Him about life’s meaning and religion. Since the film uses Jesus and end times imagery as a slick way to discuss the year 2000, it’s no surprise that the movie ends with Jesus postponing the last judgment. “The Book of Life” doesn’t pretend or try to take the Book of Revelation seriously. However, in the middle of this quirky story are surprising scenes exploring orthodox Christian views with supporting characters representing other biblical themes. It may not be a biblical story, but it explores essential biblical themes about Jesus as God and His scandalous grace for humans.
"The Miracle Maker"
A stop-motion film about Jesus featuring Ralph Fiennes, best known for his role as Lord Voldemort, as God’s son, might not sound like a great film. However, “The Miracle Maker” has built a reputation as one of the best Jesus movies. This film works because it knows its angle. From the start, “The Miracle Maker” shows it will highlight one thing: Jesus working miracles. It tells the story through people He healed, building up the most shocking miracle of His ministry: when He rose from the dead. Every moment is well-handled, resulting in a well-made movie that succeeds where many live-action Jesus movies stumble.
"Last Days in the Desert"
Filmmakers have emphasized many of Jesus’ traits. Some show His revolutionary side, while some show His love for the unwanted. However, there’s one side of Jesus’ personality that filmmakers struggle with: His humanity. He was fully God and fully human. Martin Scorsese tried to capture these struggles in his movie “The Last Temptation of Christ.” However, “Last Days in the Desert” finds a more pleasant way to discuss this theme, imagining a scene between the Bible’s Jesus stories. The film opens with Jesus in the desert during His 40 days of fasting and temptation. “Last Days in the Desert” might leave viewers with more questions than answers, but that’s the point, to get people thinking about who Jesus was and what it means to be a God who must submit to suffering.
These Jesus movies show His life from all different perspectives and make you think about His life in new ways. You may not have heard of some of these films, but now that you know about them, you can delve into them and learn more about Jesus’ life.