Friday, April 10, 2020

Jesus of Nazareth Movie Reviewed

Jesus of Nazareth Movie Reviewed
I remember when the movie "Jesus of Nazareth" was first released in 1977.  Even though that was over 40 years ago, it seems like yesterday.  It was the first time I had ever seen a visual depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  

Of course, I had seen still pictures, statues, and had the mental images my own mind created when reading the scripture.  But none of that was as impacting as watching our Lord being led down the Via Dolorosa.  Then seeing Him nailed to that cross while he was mocked and murdered.  

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is when Jesus told the thief on the cross next to him, "today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).  The realization that all that is required for salvation is accepting Jesus as the Son of God, your savior, is phenomenal.  It is recorded that the thief defended Jesus saying "He has done nothing wrong" and then the thief said “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”  

What a glorious revelation to the world!  So much was required of Jesus, but so little is required of us.

Jesus of Nazareth Movie Synopsis
Scriptural Accuracy vs. Artistic License

To this day, this is still my favorite movie about Jesus, and I have seen several.  There are some areas where the movie deviates from scripture.  Perhaps, that is for dramatic effect, or scripture interpretation.  It may well be nothing more than combining scripture passages into one event.  Regardless, it can be distracting.  I recommend reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) for the complete truth.

 Jesus of Nazareth
(40th Anniversary Edition)
Available on Blu-ray, DVD, VHS, or Prime Video
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In spite of the directors artistic liberties, I still recommend this movie.  The main reason I prefer "Jesus of Nazareth" over others is because it starts before Jesus was born.  Acknowledging the virgin birth and Joseph's obedience to God is unique and extremely important.

It includes Mary visiting Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, when they were both with child.  The Bible says "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb".  (Luke 1:41)  That is truly a significant moment when you know that as an adult, John was a prophet that proclaimed the coming of the Messiah.  

The movie includes the baptism of Jesus, preformed by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:13-17)  However, the movie takes some liberties here that I am not too thrilled about.  Scripture says:  "As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”   Instead of being scripturally accurate, the movie had John speak instead of God.  That is a major difference for me.  God did not speak through John. 

For the most part, I liked the depiction of the disciples, as well as the choice of actors to play the parts.  I know of nothing in the Bible that depicts Judas as graciously as this movie does.  It is possible that Judas was tricked and deceived by people, but I haven't found that supported by scripture. 

The last discrepancy that I would note about the movie, is with the discovery of the empty tomb.  Scripture tells us that John and Peter ran to the tomb when Mary Magdalene told them the tomb was empty.  (John 20:1-18)   Sadly, that verification by John & Peter was omitted in the movie. 

Scripture also records in John 20:17, "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."  Only a portion of this scripture was quoted in the movie.

I would also recommend reading about the multiple accounts of Jesus appearing and interacting with the disciples after his resurrection.  This is an example of how the movie combined several events into one.

Why I Recommend Jesus of Nazareth 

In spite of the discrepancies above, I would still recommend watching "Jesus of Nazareth".  The movie is a reminder of what happened on Good Friday and Easter.  It also serves as an introduction that will, hopefully, cause anyone to seek further knowledge of Truth through the scripture.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. What a lovely review of this special story of Jesus, perfect for our Easter viewing.

    1. I agree Elf! It is the perfect movie for Good Friday and the Easter weekend. We all need to be reminded of the real reason for Easter in spite of being surrounded by bunnies and eggs.

  2. A beautiful review for Good Friday. I believe I've seen the movie as well. One of the things being repeated on various news stations for this holiday weekend is Jesus' last words on the cross, "it is done" is one of the things they're saying was said. It's a sad, physically horrendous thing that happened to Jesus - but inside all of it is the hidden (actually not-so-hidden) beauty. Of course the resurrection is considered the holiest of days for Christians - but the sacrifice on Good Friday, well that day, somehow represents a measure of sacrifice we are all called upon to contribute at some or many points in our life. That's where I see the beauty. I'll have to re-watch the movie Cynthia, thank you.

    1. That quote is recorded in scripture, John 19:30 says "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." I'm sure "it is done" is a different translation.

      It is extremely difficult to watch the crucifixion, but His sacrifice for us, for our sins, is certainly a beautiful blessing. Until you said it, I don't think "beauty" is a word I would have associated with Good Friday. Now, I shall never forget it. Of course, you are right.

    2. Oh yes, my memory is failing me! The media did say, "it is finished" :)

  3. Oh Miss Mouse, you have picked our all time favorite "Jesus" movie. This is one that we must watch during these High Holy Days! I love the depiction of Mary as she is "connected" to the suffering her son endured. She too endured them in her heart. This movie is one that should make you ask questions and look for the answers to deepen your own understanding of Faith......thank you!

  4. Ms Mouse, as usual I am running behind. Even though we are just past the Easter weekend, I'm glad to read this review. Yesterday, between naps, I channel surfed and looked for a movie suitable for the day. I did not find one that appealed to me. I'll watch this today or tomorrow. Thank you for the review.

  5. I am trying to remember if I have seen this movie. Regardless, I need to immerse myself in it again. Thank you for bringing to light the importance of being discerning regarding Biblical accuracy in depictions. I appreciate how you pointed out the variances linked to Scripture. An important review. Thank you!

  6. Thank you for this review. Please know the anniversary edition of the movie issued and available at Amazon is missing scenes from the original moving including the last supper, Judas full betrayal scenes among others. The DVD white cover in your review is the example. The full version without scenes removed you can find at Ebay in used DVDs. It's the original release with a brown cover.


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