Son of God grossed $26.5 million at the box office on its opening weekend,far surpassing predictions of $17.5 million. Yahoo fans gave the movie 4.5 stars; on March 4, it became the No. 1 fan-rated film on Fandango.
The film was adapted from the mega-popular miniseries, The Bible. It includes Jesus, his mother, his disciples, and his enemies. But one figure it excludes is Satan. Even though the devil tempted Jesus early in his ministry (Matthew 4:1-11) and again at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:23), even though he sought to destroy Peter and the other disciples (Luke 22:31) and led Judas Iscariot to betray our Lord (Luke 22:3-6), he appears nowhere in a movie about Jesus and his movement. Why?
Roma Downey produced Son of God with her husband, Mark Burnett, and played Mary in the movie. She explains their decision: when the devil appeared in the miniseries, some thought the actor playing his role looked like President Obama. The media reaction was global. She says that after that episode aired, "when I was sure everyone would be talking only about Jesus, they were talking about Satan instead."
She knew what was really happening: "It was just like Satan the narcissist to make it all about him and create division. I am sure he loved being the center of attention for even one day." So they excluded these scenes from the movie: "It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting room floor. This is now a movie about Jesus, the Son of God, and the devil gets no more screen time, no more distractions."
C. S. Lewis warned that we make two mistakes regarding the devil. One is to give him more authority than he deserves—then he can do what he wants. The other is to deny that he exists—then he can do what he wants. People today typically think of Satan as a symbol of evil, wearing red tights and a tail, the stuff of Saturday cartoons. He's just as happy to be ignored as to be feared.
But it's impossible to ignore his work—broken hearts and homes, abuse, disease and immorality. Even those who do not admit the reality of Satan must admit the reality of Satanism. In some places in America, the worship of Satan is growing ten times faster than any Christian church. In recent years, the Satanic Bible has outsold the Holy Bible in many university bookstores.
So let's leave the devil on the cutting room floor of our lives. How? The moment you are tempted, "flee temptation" (2 Timothy 2:22) by giving it immediately to Jesus. You cannot defeat the enemy in your strength, but Jesus can: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). So "submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Satan will tempt you today to do just the opposite, to submit to him and resist your Lord. The choice is yours.
An executive producer of Son of God says he has gone to Communion every day for the last 12 years. Why? "I go to Mass everyday not because I am a good person, but because I am a weak person and because I need Jesus in my heart." So do I. Do you?
Publication date: March 7, 2014