Summary: An introductory message using the upcoming movie "John" to launch into a sermon series on the book of John.
This fall a motion picture called The Gospel of John [http://www.gospelofjohnthefilm.com] will be released in the United States. Narrated by Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp in the Sound of Music), the movie is a word for word presentation of the Gospel of John. It features 75 highly respected principal actors from the Canadian and British stage as well as more than 2,000 extras.
SermonCentral.com has asked Dr. David Mains, the director of Mainstay Ministries, to write four new sermons from John’s gospel that we can feature during the month of September.
What’s a movie you love? I’ll tell you one of my favorites. To Kill a Mockingbird came out way back in 1962. Gregory Peck earned an Oscar as a small-town lawyer defending a black man accused of rape. I love the way the story unfolds.
Unfortunately, you don’t get to share this morning. But my guess is that many of you would be ready to respond immediately with a favorite film if I just let you talk. Movies are the common language of today’s culture. And my prediction is that your choice would also be a movie with a good story line.
In his book The Elements of Screenwriting, Irving Blacker states, "The proof of the script is not in where the director places his camera or what music backs a scene or what star plays the lead, but in the story the writer has selected to be told both verbally and visually. While a good script does not necessarily make a good film, it is absolutely true that no great film was ever made from a bad script."
I believe it’s fair to say that all the movies we love feature a good story line. And part of what makes a good story line is conflict. The conflict is the problem the script is about.
I could give any number of illustrations; one will suffice. Another favorite movie of mine is Fiddler on the Roof, 1971, starring Topol. The opening song sets up the conflict. It’s called "Tradition"-what the fathers like Tevye do, what mothers, sons, and daughters are supposed to do-but with his five daughters we suddenly have a conflict!
In movies, the conflict usually shows up as quickly as possible. Nowadays many films actually tease the conflict before the title and opening credits are even shown.
If the conflict is between two people, it sets up an obligatory showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist-between the hero and the villain-between Spiderman and the Green Goblin. Yep, I liked that movie, too.
A good script usually explores the conflict from various viewpoints, showing why each person acts the way he or she does. And just one more point-where there’s a moral dimension to the conflict, an actual perceived right and wrong, it greatly enhances the viewer’s involvement.
The reason I’m beginning this way is that a new movie is coming out soon that I’m looking forward to seeing and hope you will go to as well. Rated PG, it’s called The Gospel of John. Produced at a cost of $20 million Canadian, it’s narrated by Christopher Plummer. He’s probably best known for a role he played some years ago-actually it was a 1965 film-The Sound of Music. Plummer was Captain Von Trapp.
This new film coming to our area is a word-for-word rendering of John’s gospel, although much of it is done in dramatic fashion. Nothing is added to the biblical text, or taken away from it. Even so, I’m told the scriptwriter, John Goldsmith, a committed Christian, has done a superb job of staging and setting the story in such a way that it is constantly compelling.
The lead is a Shakespearean actor, Henry Ian Cusick, who gives an authoritative and yet warm and endearing portrayal of our Lord Jesus.
The casting is much more Middle Eastern than any of the biblical movies that have gone before. The historical details are accurate and the film is said to bring John’s gospel alive in an incredible way. I’m looking forward to seeing it. It’s showing at ____________________________________________.
If it’s true that a well loved movie begins with a good script, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the script of this new film. We’ll try this Sunday to get an overview of what John wrote, as contrasted with the usual approach taken in a sermon of looking at just a paragraph or two. So let’s examine the Gospel of John to see if it has any of the elements of conflict screenwriters say are absolutely necessary.
While I’m certain the apostle John had no intentions of being a movie scriptwriter, it’s still impossible to miss the conflict in his gospel. On the surface, it’s between Jesus and the ruling establishment. That involves two elements. First is the Jewish Sanhedrin, made up of men who know they must maintain a good relationship with their conquerors; the second element is the military superpower of the day, Imperial Rome.