Mindlessly turning on the television and channel surfing for something to watch while cooking dinner last week, I put down the remote as I heard the name “Jesus” being used as an introduction—not in vain, the usual mode for TV and Movies. The hosts of Entertainment Tonight were actually talking excitedly about … Jesus and the Bible!
They weren’t questioning whether Jesus was real or the Bible was true. No, instead they were raving about the new TV Miniseries, The Bible, and informing their television audience that “This Sunday Jesus will meet Pontius Pilate.” Almost as if they knew Jesus and Pilate like they knew all the other celebrities and famous people they interview on their show.
They talked about the millions of people watching the series and how the first Sunday night’s airing beat out every other program on TV that night, and the next Sunday found millions tuned in to watch more of The Bible! There was no hesitation mentioning the name of Jesus. They said His name like everyone should know who He is and, of course, know the Bible that the series is based on. They weren’t embarrassed or apologetic. They were enthusiastic and passionate as they encouraged viewers to tune in next Sunday night for what’s become a “wildly-popular mini-series.”
One article about The Bible series said, “Not since Cecile B DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ has there been quite as much Biblical buzz in Hollywood.”
I have to admit, I never expected to hear Jesus proclaimed on Entertainment Tonight, but I couldn’t stop laughing and praising. Only God could take a secular TV program and use it as an advertisement for the Gospel. Only God could make the series the most watched program on TV on Sunday nights….not to mention the other nights it airs during the week. Only God could put the name of Jesus and The Bible on peoples’ tongues as they gathered around the water cooler on Monday mornings.
Only God could have given the vision for this series to Roma Downey and her husband, producer Mark Burnett, in what they describe as a “spiritual calling.”
We don’t need to make more TV,” Burnett said. “This is way more than that. . . . It’s a movement. It’s the Bible. It’s something everybody should know. Even if you don’t want to go to church, or believe, you should know these stories.” Their goal was to get people talking around the water cooler on Monday mornings and looking in their Bibles to see if that’s the way it really happened.
Of course, it’s a movie series and they’ve filled in some of the blanks where the Bible is silent, such as portraying what Sarah might have done when Abraham took Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him. And since they’re covering Genesis to Revelation, they couldn’t hit on every story.
Here is Roma’s vision she proposed to her producer husband:
“Mark, we should do this. We should make a TV series on the Bible. Not unconnected Bible stories, but the overarching, sweeping, loving narrative. A dramatic rendition that goes from Genesis to Revelation. We could tell that story in five two-hour episodes. We could bring it to life.”
Her husband protested: “I stared at her. It was an incredibly ambitious idea, and it’s not like we weren’t busy enough, raising three teenagers, and also producing some of the most demanding shows on TV (including The Voice and Survivor).
“How can we possibly take this on, and how can we tell this story in only ten television hours?” I asked, shaking my head.
“Think about it, Mark,” she said. “The Bible story is all the things that great television should be. It has adventure, it has drama and it has redemption.”
And that’s the story every Christian should be telling! And every Christian should be embracing this series…not criticizing it or trying to find inaccuracies…but sharing the amazing story of God brought to life in millions of viewers living rooms on Sunday night. Only God could do that!