The Jesus Diaries – Every day life in the time of Messiah
Transported / By Jim Schutz, The Jerusalem Post
‘He was born into the most brutal of times. His body suffered the cruelest of deaths. But then I witnessed His spirit transcend all worldly pain and grow to encompass the Earth. He brought a message of peace and love to the whole world…a message from the King of heaven. And now I live just to share it with others.’
Accompanied by a scene of a Roman soldier brutally whipping a bloody Jesus on His way to be crucified, so begins The Jesus Diaries, Doko Media’s newest documentary about the historical Jesus in His own land and culture. Presented primarily from the point of view of an anonymous disciple (narrated in the rich baritone of singer Jonathan Settel), the film invites the viewer into the “everyday life and the times of the Messiah” as it follows Him through significant life events in the context of first-century Judean society.
The result is a masterful demonstration of how Jesus’ development and teaching were so intertwined with growing up in a Jewish family in the small farming village of Nazareth. The close-knit community is faithfully portrayed living out the Biblical feasts, which in turn were inseparably liked to the natural cycles of the land. What emerges is a Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) who was authentically Jewish. The Jesus Diaries starts out by linking the birth of Jesus with Rosh Hashana, based on an increasingly popular theory which times His advent to the Feast of the Blowing of the Trumpet, the Jewish New Year. “As Rosh Hashana ushers in the rebirth of the land, so His birth heralded the dawn of the renewal of all mankind. “ thereafter, each feast is presented in relation to an aspect of Jesus’ life, but also in the context of Jewish customs and the agricultural cycles. The viewed sees how olives were harvested and pressed into Succot and grapes are turned into vine at Passover. Moreover, the film depicts how Jesus would have learned valuable lessons working with His father, spending time in the fields with sheep and Shepherds, enjoying family meals and celebrating the Sabbath.
Because the film is presented from the perspective of personal witnesses, it does not come across a dry historical documentary. Adding to the living atmosphere is a rich musical accompaniment of original Hebrew and English songs by well-known Israeli composer Elisheva Shomron. The songs are sung by Elisheva herself, along with other artists from the land. Also, in addition to the primary personal witness narrated by Jonathan Setter are modern-day native Israeli believers depicted as contemporary disciples of that day, who explain from their own perspective and experiences various aspects of Jewish life and faith, such as the process of betrothal and marriage, the meaning of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and the metaphor of the grapevine as applied to spiritual life.
The Jesus Diaries was filmed completely in the land of Israel, and contains vibrant landscapes and dramatic scenes that bring its message all the more to life. Viewers are transported in time, as the camera angels cleverly managed to capture familiar vistas – The Sea of Galilee, the Judean hills, the Jordan Valley – without any trace of modern life.
All in all, it is a worthwhile film for adults and children alike who want to understand Jesus’ life and ministry in its authentic setting and at the same time enjoy Jewish music without compromising the universal nature of His mission on Earth.
The last section returns in some detail to Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, His death and resurrection, and His final promise to His disciples that He will be with them until the end of the age – something His modern followers still affirm.
The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition, February 2009, Pg. 52