THE Easter Story has been called “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” first as a radio series in the late 1940s and then in George Stevens’ epic feature film released in 1965 with a star-studded cast.
No matter what critics may say about modern-day attempts to recount the life of Jesus Christ on the big screen, radio or television, it is an amazing story. That’s why directors, producers, authors and theologians keep telling it more than 2,000 years later.
Consider the elements:
His story opens with a miraculous birth that requires Jesus’ family to flee for their lives from a cruel King Herod who fears this infant, a descendant of King David, will topple his rule.
The child grows into a man who becomes a carpenter. He leaves his trade and home to travel about with a rough lot, including fishermen and a tax collector, to teach about how the kingdom of God has drawn near.
Jesus gets people’s attention by healing the sick, blind and lame, and turning water into wine.
He feeds thousands who gather to hear him teach by multiplying a few fish and some bread into a feast.
These astounding events and the authoritative teaching by this itinerant raise eyebrows. Could he be the long-awaited savior and son of God?
Such suggestions upset the status quo of earthly religious leaders. He winds up caught between Jewish law and the refined Roman system of justice, is convicted and sentenced to death.
Fully human, he dreads his coming sacrifice and yet he proceeds.
Then, three days after suffering an agonizing death on the cross, Jesus is recognized for what He is—the atoning sacrifice for sin once and for all.
Through resurrection, Jesus rises to become what he was all along, but what the world could not see—God with us.
What an amazing turnabout! He’s the fulfillment of prophecy; a gift of forgiveness; an example to follow; eternal life.
A local pastor has pointed out that Jesus ran afoul of the best-educated people of his day and the finest institutions the world had mustered, and was rejected.
Still, He rises from victim to victor.
The greatest of stories is something to ponder amid the Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and family suppers.