The upcoming film, Son of God, makes a special delivery with the long overdue unveiling of the unique real-life role that women had in the ministry of Jesus as well as an important gift that Africa played to the Gospel story.
In the film, Son of God, Mary Magdalene is placed right among the Disciples of Jesus at every turn — way more than you have ever seen. The fact that women were heavily involved in the ministry of Jesus is a Biblical revelation that has traditionally been neglected. Women helped fund Jesus’ ministry (Luke 8:1-3), women cared for his needs during his travels (Mathew 27:56) and women were singled out for great acts of faith (Luke 10:38-42, Luke 11:22, Mark 14:3-9, Matthew :20-22)
The film made a choice of having one single woman (Mary Magdalene) represent the many actual female ministers (who are not shown in the movie except for Jesus’ mother Mary). At times this can come across as odd seeing one woman surrounded by a bunch of men at night in the desert — but it follows a necessary cinematic choice. It is a way to reintroduce women back into the story for which they belong.
The other unique success of the film is a single scene involving a black man helping Jesus. This brief scene in the Son of God film helps tell a larger Biblical story. The scene is mentioned in three of the four Gospels that a man of Cyrene (modern Libya) helped Jesus carry His cross (Matthew 27). It could have been a traditional African or a Semitic Jewish traveler who was form the Jewish community which resided in the city of Cyrene at the time. Ultimately, skin color does not matter. What matters is that this single act follows a Biblical theme of cross cultural involvement and engagement. Africa is involved in the Gospel story both during the Crucifixion as well as Africa being a home to Jesus during their refuge to Egypt. The film’s choice of using a man of color helps communicate all these wonderful themes without saying a word (while likely showing us how it happened). By the way, Cyrene, of Africa, is mentioned again in Acts (11:20) as it praises these Cryrene men stating “men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.” One of the first recorded Gentile convert to Christianity was an Ethiopian (Acts 8).
Much more could be said of the Son of God film, but I choose to rest on the points as a genuine mark of success for the movie and for people groups who have been under-represented in previous Christ based movies.
Note #1: I leave you with three great women involvement passages from the Gospel. The reader must remember that at the time of these Scriptures, women had no voice in the courts and were often non-existence in comparable historical writings. These Bible verses are small but speak volumes when compared to other historical recordings.
And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph,and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matthew 27:56
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him (Salome is James’ & John’s mother)
Note #2: In following the cross-cultural theme of the Gospel, we have the Apostle Paul preach throughout Southern Europe and Saint Thomas helping establish an Eastern Christian movement that spread to Iran and as far as India according to early church traditions. It is amazing that the Gospel helps touch three continents in just a short generation.
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