9 April 2015 by romanin
We’ve been doing a movie night with the Chinese Bible Study groups at our church. The Bible Studies have been in the Gospel of John for the last several months, so we have been hosting one group a week at our house to watch the movie version.
We had one showing of the Gospel of John by the Visual Bible at our house a few weekends ago. We hosted a bible study group called Plato consisting of 8 students and one parent. They are all Christians but one, one of them had just begun coming to Bible Study the night before, and has a girlfriend who is a Christian, but he himself is not yet a Christian.
Because of our experience the week before, we decided to do things differently. We brought the big couch from the fire place room into the TV room so that there was more seating, and instead of Pizza, we had Chinese noodles made by Lydia and her sister, Megan. Everyone came at about 4:30, so we watched the 3-hour version. Oh, and many of the Chinese students brought food (strawberries, a dry cake, iced cream, cream puffs, grapes, etc.) so there was plenty of food and drink. So everyone sat down and got comfortable, someone prayed, and we began the movie. We watched about an hour and then took a break to eat.
Last time, Nathaniel and Ethan were a distraction, so Lydia had to take care of them and I did too, on and off. I decided that this time, I would take the boys on myself so that Lydia could watch with everyone else. So the boys and I went outside during most of the first part of the movie. We had just bought bikes for the boys earlier in the day; Nathaniel got a used 16” bike with training wheels, and Ethan got a new balance bike. So it was a big deal for them, and they were obviously just learning how to ride them for the first time. Nathaniel and Ethan both needed a lot of encouraging in the beginning. So I decided that while everyone was watching the movie, we’d ride all the way to the Shockey’s house (just down the road and around the corner) and then to the park. It was a challenge, and my back is sore because of it. I had to walk crouched down most of the time to keep Ethan upright and to help Nathaniel when he got stuck.
By the time we returned, everyone was already eating dinner, and loving it. The older woman, the parent of one of the students, had two giant plates of the noodles (炸醬麵[ Zhajiangmian]) and along with everyone else, praised Lydia and Megan saying that it was as good as or better than the 炸醬麵 they had had in Beijing! This of course made Megan and Lydia very happy, and me quite proud.
After the main course we had some dessert including homemade 西米露[ Xi Mi Lu] (a dessert soup made with coconut milk, tapioca, and taro root), and assembled back into the TV room to resume the movie. During the rest of the movie, I ended up putting the boys to bed, and Lydia and I were both there as the movie finished.
Here are a few of the questions we asked after we finished the movie:
· What, if anything, surprised you about this portrayal of Jesus? How was he different from the Jesus in your mind when you read John?
· Was there anything that you noticed watching the movie that you hadn’t noticed in reading the book of John before?
· Did watching the whole book at once give you any more clarity than you had previously in reading it a piece at a time?
One comment that seemed to bear repeating with the Chinese girls is that the Jesus portrayed is “too handsome.” But on a more serious note, many commented on how the humanness of Jesus showed through the movie. The Jesus in this movie smiled a lot, he got upset when he purged the temple, he was distressed before he was taken to the cross, he showed sadness at the knowledge of the one who would betray him. He was human. Many, including myself, give Jesus all of the God attributes in our mind (his omniscience (or knowledge of everything) in particular) and decide that nothing should be a surprise to him and therefore emotion to him would be superfluous. However, Jesus was indeed human, and the bible attributes emotion to him, even if we don’t in our minds.
Since he is fully man, he can be closer to us. It was cool to see that in some of the students; it was cool to see some of them realize that Jesus is more relatable than we sometimes think. And I hope that seeing this movie helped them to draw nearer to him.