The controversial movie, "The Last Temptation of Christ," sees Jesus' longing for a woman and family as the biggest threat to his calling, but that isn't the way scripture tells it.
He was tempted, and tempted hard, by some of the most distorting urges of human history - the lures of power, wealth and glory on the threshhold of his ministry, as portrayed in Luke 4.The movie, previewed Tuesday, offers an altered representation of this episode, adding female enticement to it as a main snare, yet also retaining the tug to worldly power. Jesus is jolted loose from both.
The movie, which opens in some theaters Friday, has stirred a storm of protests and condemnations by some Christians.
Most of them hadn't seen it. Certain lewd dialogue they reported wasn't there, although there was much blood and violence, common in Rome-ruled Judea.
Some Christian leaders who have seen the movie, while criticizing elements of it, cite valid aspects, particularly in trying to explore tensions between Jesus' conceived humanity and Godhood.
He is regarded both fully God and fully man, "one who in every respect has been tempted as we are," scripture says, "yet without sin."
In the movie, he is depicted as an anxious, uncertain and wavering individual, hardly the strong, yet tender and compelling Jesus of scripture. Yet, in the movie, he realizes his special role from the start.
"One morning he (God) brushed over me like a cool breeze and said, `Stand up,' " Jesus relates as he undertakes the movie version of his ministry. But he is continually beset with hesitations and fear.
Fear was not unknown to the scriptural Jesus, although specified only on that last night before his arrest and crucifixion, when he prayed to be freed of the ordeal, yet submitted to it.