Why the History Channel Got it Wrong About Jesus and Satan
The creators of The History Channel‘s miniseries, “The Bible,” Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, made the news today after comparisons were made between the actor depicting Satan to President Barack Obama. I am not touching that and think those who have are just trying to stir the pot unnecessarily, but a wrinkled black man in a hoodie as Satan? And Jesus looks like he walked right out of Beverly Hills 90210, the Portuguese edition? The message, even if accidental, is disappointing.
It just doesn’t sit right with me. I endeavored to write a blog with some degree of historical interpretation, but decided it was too tough, too controversial and nothing I wanted to touch. Then I decided to post it anyway.
But the point I want you to take away is this and only this- Beauty, in God’s eyes, comes from within (1 Samuel 16:7b, 1 Peter 3:3-4).
Jesus is timeless and faceless. He is beautiful no matter what his flesh ever was. So, why do we need to “over-do” Jesus’ physical appearance? It is clearly not history. And then there is the unsettling dichotomy of those who portray beauty and those who portray evil throughout the series. It’s unsettling.
As cast by the makers of “The Bible,” Jesus was lily white with flawless, unwrinkled skin. The tests of time or tireless sacrifice and labor did not phase him and his teeth were perfect. Is that what the Bible tell us?
Jesus, with some reliability and consensus was of Semitic stock- a Jewish carpenter or stonemason. Stories in the Bible depict Him as physically ordinary and sometimes confused for others, such as Peter or John. He did hard outside physical labor until the age of thirty. Jesus walked wherever He went, so His skin would have been darkened by the sun, weathered even- not as dark as that of a sub-Saharan African but not as light as a northern European. Many scholars indicate something of an olive tone.
And the long hair? Many Scholars think ancient Semites had generally dark colored hair that was thick and often wiry or curly, but short. Supporting this, St. Paul said, “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him?” (1 Cor 11:14).
And the beard? Jesus would not have had a neat, trimmed beard, because Leviticus 19:27 required Jewish males to “not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”
Don’t blame the messenger, but Isaiah almost insinuates that Jesus was ordinary to unattractive:
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
(Isaiah 53:2, KJV)
Given the circles He traveled in and the hard life he lived, he undoubtedly deserved to be immortalized with an exterior to match his interior- radiantly beautiful. So, I am not protesting, but the dichotomy is vast between the depiction of Him and…
Satan’s fall (or push) from Heaven is symbolically described in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18. Satan was likely the highest of all angels, the most beautiful of all of God’s creations, but he was not content in his position. Instead, Satan desired to be God, to essentially “kick God off His throne” and take over the rule of the universe.
His soul is reprehensible and his ugliness knows no bounds. Satan undoubtedly deserves to be immortalized with an exterior to match his interior. And someone had to take the job, but I find it a little offensive and Biblically inaccurate casting. Why is someone different from us truly different from us? If this is a fair depiction of stories from the Bible, why not let the inner beauty/ugliness tell the story more than the judgmental characterizations of the exterior?
It is a step in the right direction if it exposes more people to the Greatest Story ever told, but I am truly disappointed that we must still resort to story-telling this way.
I think it’s time we all judged each other on the Beauty within.