March 31, 2010

Books I love, part 2

As on the week leading to Easter, I want to share a certain book with you.
Again this is a book I keep on coming back to. It was given to me by a friend, who then left Central Asia and did not want to carry it back home.

The book is called "In the Footsteps of Jesus - One Man's Journey Through the Life of Christ". It is written by Bruce Marchiano.

You might wonder why he would choose such a name for his book. I mean, how exactly did he walk in the footsteps of Jesus? And had a journey through Jesus' life? Journey?

Well, this is actually 'a movie made into a book', versus the much more common 'a book made into a movie'.

Bruce is acting Jesus in The Visual Bible's 'Matthew'. It is a word-for-word from the text of The New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. (So, actually it is first a book - then a movie, then a book about the movie!)

In this interesting book he tells in detail how he was chosen to act Jesus, and how he had been prepared for this acting job for years beforehand, naturally without him knowing it, because the director Regardt van den Bergh had not started with the idea yet. Most importantly, he tells about his experiences through the filming in Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.

He has a very catchy way of writing. I could not put the book down! I could not! I was sitting in the kitchen, reading, ignoring the kids, reading, not cooking the dinner, reading and crying. It is a very touching book.

When Bruce went to meet the director for the very first time in an audition, he had struggled how to dress and look like Jesus! Yes, I would not know how to dress like Jesus on modern days! "Now let me ask you, what does one wear to audition for the role of Jesus? A flowing robe with three golden sashes? A halo? A white silk suit? How about a pair of jeans, flannel shirt, work boots, and two days' unshaven beard?"

He was obviously chosen for the role. Then he writes about the preparation period. It was so interesting. I find actors and actresses lives quite interesting (yes, I confess it here!), but I cannot remember anyone ever talking about the preparation that is required for a role. Of course one needs to prepare...learn the lines and maybe loose some weight or gain some, grow beard or shave a head...I just never knew how it really looked from inside, day to day.

One of the challenges was to understand who Jesus was, as a human, when He lived on earth. There is so much written about Him from the godly point of view, His deep spirituality, but not so much about what kind of man Jesus really was. Why did Jesus do this? Why did He give such an answer? Why did He choose to speak these words, and to be silent in other instances... I was fascinated by Bruce's experiences. He was studying the scenes, reading books and research about the life of Jesus, and discovering wonders!

"Somehow, in my heart, I had to get spiritually, soulfully, and in every other way prepared to represent Jesus...You see, the camera does not lie. Any film actor worth his salt will tell you it moves in on your eyes, picking up every thought behind them, exposing your soul to the world. It's the key to film acting. If an actor is lying, the camera will pick it up in his eyes, and the audience will see it and not believe him; it's just that simple. So it doesn't matter how good I may be at acting compassionate, joyful, loving - the traits of Jesus. If I am void of these things in my own heart, with that camera staring down the throat of my soul, I'm not going to convince a single man, woman or child (especially the child!). So, you see, aside from the film, the key for me was to personally seek after what we're all called to seek in the first place - Christ-likeness."

This picture really touched me. Can you read the text?

I just enjoy Bruce's claim that he is the first Jesus in film history whose hair moved when the wind blew! Of course, Jesus was a real man!

In the book Bruce is describing and explaining scenes that have touched people all over the world, and gives insight why they chose to film those scenes that certain way. It made watching the movie even more enjoyable and touching.

On the second meeting with the director, where Bruce and Regardt shared and talked about the project, one word became a cornerstone of the whole movie.

"At one point during that lunch, Regardt spoke a handful of words that would become cornerstone to everything we did when the cameras rolled. They were words that would springboard countless transformed lives as already described. With all the confidence of a man who knows the prompting of the Holy Spirit and trusts the Word of God, Regardt leaned over the table, looked me square in the eye, and said: 'Bruce, I have one word for you: joy. He was anointed with the oil of joy, and that's what set Him apart from everyone else - Hebrews 1:9. Bruce, I believe that's what the Lord wants us to do in Matthew - to present Jesus as a Man of Joy.' "

And Bruce's exciting journey about finding out the Man of Joy started...

"Jesus began jumping off the page at me as well - His realness and strength, the sparkle in His eyes, the spring in His gait, the heartiness in His laugh, the genuineness of His touch; His passion, playfulness, excitement, and vitality: His JOY!"

And this is the message that makes this book and the movie so special for me. Jesus was a real man, who lived a real life...he laughed and had fun, and He really, really, really loved people.

There were some really difficult scenes to film, and you need to read the book to find out how Bruce could do them...often he had no idea himself!

But as we are about to celebrate Easter, this might be the most important news you will hear, and most important thing you will learn in the rest of your life:

Jesus loves you.
He loves you so much.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. Oon kauheasti iloinnu tästä blogista, ootan aina uusia juttuja ja minusta on kiva oppia tuntemaan sinua paremmin näin "aikuisiällä" :).

  2. Kiitos kommentista! Yks syy alottaa tää blogi oli just se, että voin jakaa mun elämää ystävien ja perheen kun on niiiin hankalaa jos tapaa vain muutaman vuoden välein! Keep on reading! :)


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