CNN presents the second season of their popular series Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery. In this six-part documentary, well-known pastors, theologians, and scholars examine famous religious artifacts. Reenactments bring the places and people from the Gospels to life.
Season 2 will explore New Testament-related artifacts such as Jesus’s childhood home, St. Peter’s bones, and the tomb of King Herod. The first episode of Finding Jesus airs March 5, just in time for the Lenten and Easter season.
Episode 1, The Pilate Stone (March 5)
One of the most menacing characters in the Passion of Christ is Pontus Pilate.
When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (Matt. 27:1-2 NKJV)
The interactions that follow are wrought with political and personal conflict. Pilate makes the pivotal decision to crucify Jesus.
Pilate’s backstory makes this episode of Finding Jesus interesting. The show moves through the courtroom drama slowly and deliberately. The explanation of the political climate helps viewers understand the biblical narrative.
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (Matt. 27:24 NKJV)
Dr. Robert Cargill brings his charisma to the streets of Jerusalem, tracking Jesus’s journey to the cross. Adam Bond plays a humble yet strong Jesus. The dramatization includes the beating Pilate ordered, but the depicted violence falls short of that in The Passion of the Christ. The archeological evidence of Pilate’s Stone and Herod’s castle aren’t as exciting as the experts try to make it. The gem of this episode is the political intrigue associated with Jesus’s prosecution and conviction.
Episode 2, Raising Lazarus (March 12)
In the second episode, experts delve into what many consider Jesus’s greatest miracle. John 11 records the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
He shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.” (John 11:33-34 MSG)
Starting with Jesus’s unique relationship with Mary and Martha, theologians infer emotions and meaning into the story. Some liberties are taken, including the idea that Lazarus could be the disciple Jesus loved (John 19:26, 21:7). While these ideas are not presented as fact, their inclusion in a documentary padded with experts gives the appearance of verified truth.
This episode includes several female experts. A more emotional feel emanates from the story, including their thoughts on Lazarus’s sisters and Jesus’s relationship with his close friend. The reenactment carries this episode with short dialogue capitalized by dramatic pauses. Lazarus’s remains play a greater role in the story, better fulfilling the show’s promise to support Jesus’s existence through archeological evidence (although the ending leaves us with some uncertainties).
Strong opponents of the inerrancy of the Bible and the deity of Jesus Christ will most likely maintain their opinion after watching the series. Christian believers will find strength for established faith. They will see modern research back up what they already believe. The dramatizations are up to par with made-for-TV Bible flicks. The added commentary from the experts brings context and meaning to the stories.
Finding Jesus is an opportunity for parents and children to see the Bible come to life, as well as learn about artifacts which support their beliefs. The dramatizations will help hold their attention between the theological discussions. Christians will appreciate the solidarity and may enjoy watching as a group or congregation. Pastors can find valuable resources at FindingJesusResources.com.
Season 2 of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery premieres on Sunday, March 5 at 9 PM ET/PT on CNN.