“Risen,” directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Joseph Fiennes, is the story of the manhunt for the corpse of Jesus Christ. Spoiler alert: They don’t find it.
Fiennes plays a Roman tribune named Clavius. He’s tasked by Pontius Pilate with crucifying the latest batch of Jewish rabble and self-proclaimed messiahs. The only catch? One of them really is the Messiah.
Of course Clavius, a good Roman military man, doesn’t think anything of Jesus. When the centurion at Golgotha admits, “Surely this Man was the Son of God,” Clavius lets him have it. Clavius is tough, and he’s immune to Jewish superstition—that is, until Sunday morning. For Clavius, that’s when all Heaven breaks loose.
The tomb is empty, the guards aren’t talking, and the Disciples of Jesus are spreading the news that He’s come back to life. The high priest warns Pilate that they’ll have an uprising on their hands if he doesn’t put the resurrection story to rest. So Pilate sends Clavius on a grisly, CSI-style hunt for the body of Christ.
That’s when our tribune has an encounter that shakes his pagan worldview to the core. “I have seen two things which cannot reconcile,” he says. “A man dead without question, and that same man alive again.”
This a powerful film, not just because it’s a respectful and riveting portrayal of the gospel accounts, but because it shows an unbeliever’s crisis of faith when confronted by the Risen Lord.
In anticipation of Easter, I cannot think of a better reminder of how Christianity, as Tim Keller puts it, forces us to “doubt our doubts.” The empty tomb is the most startling fact of history—something two millennia of skeptics have tried to explain away. But the evidence is just too strong. And “Risen,” like a good detective novel, follows that evidence where it leads.
For instance, the Roman officials and Jewish leaders had every motive to produce a body. Yet they couldn’t. And Jesus’ Disciples had nothing to gain and everything to lose from lying about the Resurrection. But their transformation from cowards to spiritual conquerors testifies that they, like Fiennes’ fictional character, saw something—or Someone—who rocked their worlds.
Make sure you take your non believing friends to see this challenging movie and what better time just before Easter.