BRANSON – As the nation hunkered down amid the COVID-19 pandemic last Easter, the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) aired Sight & Sound Theater’s show, JESUS, for free. My family couldn’t help but take advantage of this opportunity, and we loved the show. So, this fall, my wife and I drove to Branson to watch JESUS in person.
Whether online or in person, watching JESUS is wonderful and worthwhile. Though the two-hour show doesn’t follow the Gospel accounts verbatim, it is faithful to the Gospels’ storyline and creatively portrays biblical truth about Jesus’ life and message. The musical score and the sound/visual effects – including an amazing slow-motion scene – heighten the emotional impact of the show and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end.
The show’s portrayal of Jesus is far from one-dimensional. Viewers get a taste of the various aspects of his personality: from His love of children and His righteous anger at the misuse of His Father’s Temple, to His authority over storms and demons, as well as His compassion for lepers and outcasts. We see Him weep at Lazarus’ tomb. Then we’re reminded, as Jesus pours out His soul in Gethsemane, of the intensity of spiritual battle He must have endured before praying, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”
Though the production is available online at Sight & Sound TV (www.sight-sound.tv), there’s value in seeing the performance live in Branson. Watching in person, you can feel the wind off the Sea of Galilee as Jesus walks on water and more easily view what is happening across the stage. For example, it was only when I watched in person – viewing a full panorama of the stage – that I noticed how, as Jesus was crucified, the remnant of His followers were singing these words from the Lord’s Prayer: “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Indeed, Christ’s crucifixion was also, in a sense, His coronation.
Watching the play in person also reminded me that every performance is different – including different actors and even different patterns of movement across the stage. While watching online, I was captivated and inspired by a scene where Jesus left his disciples to “rescue the one” lost sinner. But, with a different cast and different onstage movement at the Branson show, this scene didn’t capture my emotions as powerfully as before.
But that wasn’t all bad, since it opened my eyes to new aspects of the play that I hadn’t valued as highly in the previous viewing. Every performance carries a different punch, and this only makes me want to watch the show again. Fortunately, Sight & Sound will continue to present JESUS until the end of 2022 – so maybe I’ll make my way back there sometime. But, if I can’t, there’s also the wonderful video of the performance online. To learn more, visit www.sight-sound.com.