We have been asked countless times, over the past 30 years since the JESUS film was released, why it has been so successful and versatile (in light of the more than six billion viewings and 220 million viewers that have indicated wanting to follow Christ). What would motivate more than 1500 other denominations and organizations to want to make the JESUS film part of their own evangelistic and discipleship strategies?

The first reason, inarguably would be that we didn’t make up lines for Jesus to say in the screen play–it’s taken straight from the Gospel of Luke. God says His word will not return empty, but will accomplish its intended purpose. That is enacted every time the film is shown. The Holy Spirit speaks directly to the heart of each viewer–and those whom He has prepared enter his kingdom.

Another reason would be the authenticity that was put into, not just the script, but the construction of each scene. Hundreds of hours of research were spent delving into what pottery looked like in 1st century Palestine, what dyes were used in clothing, etc. And of course, it would be unspeakable if one could see telephone poles and lines in the background of a set. Those had to be taken down in many places. Certain scenes had to be re-shot because of cars driving by in the distance.

The film is not perfect–if you look closely, you can see a wristwatch here, or extras smoking cigarettes there. But the JESUS film is as true to scripture as we could make it. And God has honored that.