Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
Israel has often been called “the Fifth Gospel,” because so many places in Israel testify to the historical truth of Jesus Christ. Of course, things are changing rapidly as Israel modernizes. Hills that were barren 10 years ago are now filled with apartment buildings. Although the law requires that anyone who finds an artifact stop their construction, many people, according to the local experts, ignore the law.
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend another week in Israel, pre-producing a major movie. This was not the typical pilgrimage, where a guide stands in front of you with his back to an archeological site and tells you the stories that everyone wants to hear. Instead, it was an in-depth fact-finding mission to polish an already great script. Experts, scholars, archeologists and even the head of a school of tour guides provided invaluable information, which took the team that I was with from “polishing a script” to moving it into an entirely new level.
Scholars from Jerusalem University, Bethlehem Bible College, and many other places provided invaluable input. And, the more they investigate the possibilities and discussed the realities, the more real the signs of God’s presence became. Certain artifacts are renowned, such as the “Jesus Boat” on the shores of Lake Galilee, which was found just a couple of years ago and carefully dated to the time that Jesus was walking the shores of Galilee and may have been sailing on this very boat. This artifact provided unique insight into the life of the Apostles.
Another, of course, is the Israel Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls survive. Not only is it miraculous that scrolls written hundreds of years before our time could contain the exact same text that has survived to today, but it is also extremely interesting to see the similarities between communities such as the Essenes and some elements of contemporary Christian culture.
The discovery of a nail through a heel bone has provided a new insight into how crosses were made, suggesting that Jesus was crucified at eye level of the audience, so that people could look at Him, revile Him, and spit upon Him – unlike the sanitized, elevated crosses of KING OF KINGS.
Discoveries about the position and nature of the Passover, the distance between Ciaphus’ house and the Roman Antonio fortress near the temple provide unique insights into the Gospel.
The more you see, the more you hear Jewish and Christian scholars, the more the vivid reality of Jesus Christ comes to life as summarized in John 3:16: That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son; that all who believe in Him shall not die but have eternal life. And, of course, that He is risen and reaching out to all mankind today with a message of eternal Love, wherein there is true peace.