Movie of the Week: The King of Kings by Cecil B. DeMille 1927
Clip: 44:00 – 50:15
Old Testament: Genesis 2:5-9
New Testament: Hebrews 4:14-16
Music: None – rest in the silence
A visually captivating aspect of DeMille’s film is the way that Jesus is shown to be glowing throughout the movie. DeMille clearly wants the viewer to know there is something different about Jesus. The clip of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is one of my favorites in The King of Kings. When the women first come to Jesus, he stands out from the other characters mostly because of his white robe. Throughout the movie his face is pale and fair-skinned (not a very accurate picture of a Middle Eastern Jew at that time, but that’s a discussion for another day). As the scene moves to Lazarus’ tomb, though, there is an ethereal, illuminating light encapsulating the figure of Jesus. He is clearly different and otherworldly compared to the others in the tomb.
This brings up a central tenet of theology: Jesus is both fully God and fully man. The tension between these two descriptions has led to many theological debates throughout the history of the church. In The King of Kings DeMille emphasizes the deity of Jesus. As we watch films made about Jesus in the coming weeks, note how directors and actors usually highlight one aspect over the other. This gets at the heart of the matter for our consideration this Lenten season: who is Jesus? It’s the same question the disciples asked as they were in the boat as Jesus calmed the storm: “Who is this man? Even the winds and the waves obey him” (Matthew 8:27 NLT).
Of note is Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch’s statement:
“From the beginning, let us say that we believe that the only way we can truly authenticate ourselves as an expression of Christianity is to somehow measure ourselves against the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Each of us must determine for ourselves who this man is. If our tendency is to emphasize the deity and otherworldliness of Jesus, we may find Jesus difficult to relate to. Frost and Hirsch say “Show me your Jesus, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Find time and space to be silent today and reflect on your own view of Jesus. Do you have an easier time picturing him as God or as man? Do you picture him with a white light around him? When does he feel most relatable and real to you? Can you imagine Jesus sweating, burping, or using the bathroom? That may seem heresy to even suggest, but if he is fully man, these things have to be true – and they are important because they will help us remember that Jesus is, in the words of Hebrews, “fully human in every way” (Hebrews 2:17 NIV). Spend some quiet time talking to Jesus.
 Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, (Hendrickson Publishers, 2009), 8.
 Ibid., 88.