40 Nights (2016)

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40 Nights: Directed by Jesse Low. With DJ Perry, Rance Howard, Taymour Ghazi, Joey Cipriano. Jesus wanders for 40 Nights in the desert

“According to all four gospels in the Christian New Testament, the primary pivotal time in Jesusu0026#39; life and ministry was his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Before this act, Jesus was just a u0026quot;face in the crowdu0026quot; at least outwardly. Possibly he was just another disciple of John, maybe even one so nondescript, he wasnu0026#39;t even worth writing or talking about.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAll of this changed when Jesus emerged from the water in Johnu0026#39;s arms. At this point he had a vision from God. The impact on Jesus was so great , he had to go into the wilderness afterward for 40 days of fasting and praying to help him reflect on and process this experience. What was this vision and its impact on Jesus? The Gospels describe his vision (mainly of a dove descending from heaven) but donu0026#39;t really tell us what was going on in Jesusu0026#39; mind during this time of radical inward change. What we do know is that after this time was over, Jesus immediately began preaching his (and our) Gospel of love and peace. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSo we see this profound outward radicalization of Christu0026#39;s life but get nothing of his thoughts on the matter, at least from the Gospels. The film u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; seeks to fill in these gaps during his desert time and speculates on how Jesus realized his calling and decided what to do next. Ingeniously, the film gives us this information by u0026quot;filling inu0026quot; Jesusu0026#39; personal reactions to his subsequent temptations in the desert. The gospels have Jesus react to Satanu0026#39;s temptations by quoting scripture from the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible). What do these quotes mean in their context? Why is Jesus saying these things? What do these reactions say about Jesusu0026#39; thoughts and feelings about these u0026quot;mereu0026quot; scripture verses? Most importantly, what was Jesus thinking while he wasnu0026#39;t encountering Satan. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe Bible is silent on these questions. For centuries Bible scholars, church leaders and theologians have speculated on these questions (and questioned Jesusu0026#39; personal reactions to other events in his life). In the tradition of such scholarship, u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; seeks answer these questions simply, by reasonably speculating on what was going on in his mind during this time. Naturally this film uses visual imagery to portray Jesusu0026#39; thoughts, focusing on his reaction to Satanu0026#39;s attempts to suborn him. You may agree or disagree with what you see and hear, but the results are both moving and at the same time biblical and revealing. How would you react to such u0026quot;divineu0026quot; visions and personal revelations? u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; shows a plausible interpretation of the human side of Christ, the side most of us can best relate to, including Jesusu0026#39; astonishment at realizing His true message and, most importantly, who he really is. The filmu0026#39;s basic story line shows us Christu0026#39;s baptism and Jesusu0026#39; subsequent time in the wilderness. This lonely experience brought Jesus to three profound temptations from u0026quot;the devil.u0026quot; Christians have interpreted these u0026quot;visionsu0026quot; variously as either real temptations from a real Satan or as metaphors for his inner thoughts and feelings, or both. u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; chooses to focus on the metaphorical side of the temptations as Jesus journeys through the desert encountering visions of phony u0026quot;what do I do nextu0026quot; ideas courtesy of Satan himself. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; did a wonderful job of showing Jesus as human, including flashbacks to Jesusu0026#39; past. Most Christian movies, literature and teaching never do this. Christu0026#39;s being the son of God was faithfully rendered but not trumpeted. Itu0026#39;s good that the film showed what Jesus experienced personally. Instead of trying to turn this tale into a trite u0026quot;biblical epic,u0026quot; the film focuses on Jesusu0026#39; interactions, memories and personal internal battles. I especially liked the filmu0026#39;s showing that Jesusu0026#39; temptation in the wilderness was not just a prologue for his ministry but also part of his preparation for death on the cross. In its symbolism, this filmu0026#39;s story shows one manu0026#39;s search for faith and God-given strength while he sets off on a journey of fasting to prepare his soul for sacrifice. Of course some artistic license was taken to fill in gaps not shown in the Bible. But hey, the movie is never as good as the book, right? Still, the film was careful to be faithful to the biblical accounts. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn essence, the film boils down to a personal drama, a character study if you like, seeking to reveal Jesusu0026#39; internal conflicts and struggles. You will either agree with its portrayal or not, but you cannot argue that it doesnu0026#39;t show reverence for its subject. u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; is a film that inspires, no matter whether the viewer is believer. In essence, it is a thought-provoking and challenging attempt to glimpse the soul of Christ.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAlthough the u0026quot;actionu0026quot; is at times a bit slow, I found that some of these moments actually gave me good personal time to reflect on what the film was actually trying to say. I really enjoyed the landscape and scenic shots. I got a profound sense of the natural ruggedness and spiritual solitude of the desert. Certainly DJ Perry does an excellent job portraying Christ. In addition to being entertaining, u0026quot;40 Nightsu0026quot; is a good study tool for any church Christian education program. Watch it, think about it and enjoy it. Share it with others. Above all, you can use it as a way to help with your own personal journey in Christ.”

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