Our long-awaited Messiah

Published 9:41 pm Thursday, December 26, 2019

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

This weekend, I watched the movie “The Greatest Story Ever Told” for the first time. It is a three-hour, classic retelling of the life of Jesus Christ from the days leading up to His birth to the days after His resurrection when He ascended into heaven. Although we highlight the biblical accounts of Jesus’ birth during the holiday season, Christmas is an appropriate time to celebrate the entire life of Jesus. This movie was a perfect selection for our family movie.

I did not know there were so many famous actors in the screenplay. Max von Sydow plays Jesus. Charlton Heston is John the Baptist. Telly Savalas is Pontius Pilate. Joanna Dunham plays Mary Magdalene. Russell Johnson, who is well known from my young days of watching “Gilligan’s Island,” and Angela Lansbury, who I loved in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote,” also have notable but small appearances. I also recognized John Wayne as the Roman Centurion who commented during Christ’s crucifixion, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54 KJV). One of the highlights for me was the appearance of Sydney Poitier as Simone of Cyrene, who assists Jesus in carrying the cross on the Via Dolorosa. The Bible comes to life in this movie as I recognize faces of these familiar people portraying a very familiar story. It was like watching these celebrities tell me what they know about Jesus. Of course, Hollywood gets many things wrong. But for the most part, I enjoyed the adaptation, although it was very long.

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Have you ever noticed that many movies about Jesus are long? “Passion of the Christ” and the 2014 movie, “Son of God,” starring Roma Downey and Diogo Morgado are both over two hours. You need to set aside some time for watching. An appropriate amount of time is needed to tell the story of the greatest man that ever lived.

We believe Jesus lived among us for 33 years. It may seem to be a short span of time for such long storytelling. But I think it has less to do with time captured in human life as much as it has to do with Jesus Christ being the long-awaited Messiah.

After the scene where Lazarus was raised from the dead in the movie, three men run from Bethany to tell the people in nearby towns that the Messiah has come. These three men are intentionally selected to share the good news. One portrayed the lame man. One portrayed the leper. One portrayed the blind man. They all received a miracle of healing. Their news of the Messiah’s coming extended beyond the miracles they personally experienced. When these men realize that they have not just received a personal miracle but that they are in the presence of the anointed one that the Hebrew Bible promised was coming, they wanted everyone to know. They had waited for the prophecy to be revealed without knowing whether they would ever see it. Jesus secured hope for all the people.

Psalms 25:3 reminds us that “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.” When we wait in the will of God, we do not wait in vain. The lesson we should take from “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is that expectant waiting in God’s will shall result in celebration. Another thing I learned is that no singular holiday can appropriately cover the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus is here every day of the year. When you realize that He has come to you, He is our hope. He has come to us so that our hope is sure, firm and steadfast. Praise God for our hope in Jesus.


QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via iamquawanna@thebiggerme.net or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.