You can free stream the entire first four episodes here: NBC’s free showing of A.D – The Bible Continues.
This week’s focus is on the retribution of Pilate and his need to exercise the might of Rome over the land of Judea and city of Jerusalem. Pilate has completely had it with the “silliness” of the Jews practices and beliefs. Last week one of his guards (bodyguards even) was killed by a Zealot. The zealots want to rid the Holy Land of the occupying Roman army and its iron-fisted rule over them. So Pilate instigates a witch hunt. His plan was to crucify 10 Jewish citizens a day until the real culprit(s) are handed over to him. There is no justice in this, and so Caiaphas wants it to stop before Pilate allows an even larger city-wide revolt to occur.
Meanwhile Peter and John are awaiting trial by the Jewish council (the Sanhedrin) for their preaching that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah (or rescuer) of the Jewish people. The Sanhedrin called Jesus a heretic for thinking he was equal to God himself. Peter recently had healed a lame man who could not walk from birth. Although I don’t remember if this is actually in the Bible, Caiaphas’ wife tries to bribe the blind man into testifying against Peter and John. She says that Jesus followers want to bring down the Temple (but it was something Jesus had not directly said. Jesus said “Tear down this temple and I will raise it in three days”, as He was referring to his resurrection).
At the trial, Caiaphas calls Peter a liar pretending that he had healed the man under the authority of God, but the once lame man shows up to testify. He says he was lame from birth, that no one paid him to pretend he was lame, and that now he is healed. The lame man had spent years at the Temple, so many of the people there knew that he was lame and likely telling the truth. The people want Peter and John set free (for justice, but also because they want to experience more healings, I would suppose). This makes Caiaphas extremely angry. He has been shown to be weak compared to Jesus’ followers.
Caiaphas is also weak to the Romans. He tries to humble himself to obtain God’s mercy by wearing sackcloth and pouring burned up ashes onto his head and body. He hopes that his piety will convince the Romans, but Pilate only mocks him by making him eat the ashes of the cremated Roman soldier who was killed (I don’t remember this in the Bible either).
Peter returns to the upper room where the disciples are gathering and is shocked to see hundreds of people there. They had witnessed the disciples miracles of healings and speaking other languages. Peter’s resolve is strengthened by this. Instead of keeping quiet as Caiaphas had asked, Peter believes it is God’s will to spread the message while knowing it may cost him his life. The show represents this strengthening by showing the Holy Spirit as a wind that rushes in to help the disciples when they need it.
John has a dream that leads him to a place where he meets Barnabas (a wealthy believer in Jesus). Barnabas promises the disciples some land to set up a new community of believers where common goods are shared to care for the poor. This of course attracts a lot of people, because Rome has placed a huge tax on the citizens in order to support Rome’s building projects. This makes the citizens both poor and resentful of the Roman system. It also attracts followers who want to help. Unfortunately two of the followers are not sure Peter’s mission will truly succeed, so they hedge their bets and keep some of their money hidden. I don’t think this would have been a problem but they lied and said they were giving it all to ministry. In a vision Peter is informed by the Spirit of what happened. Both of the two followers die of internal hemorrhage and are quickly buried. And Boaz meets Peter and wants to join the camp but Peter says he must repent first. Boaz refuses saying that being a citizen of Judea is enough.
Finally we meet Stephen who is a new convert and very strong when it comes to seeing justice done. He tries to stop the Romans from arresting the citizens for crucifixion. He is knocked down and beaten by them. Next week I fear something even worse will happen to him. And we have the wives working together to find the culprit, Boaz who killed Pilate’s guard.
Next week we can expect to see the stoning of Stephen who is the first martyr for Jesus recorded in the Bible.
Galleries: Check out the galleries page to see the characters in action. There are a lot of characters to track of so its worth it to take a look at their faces, names and category groups (Followers of Christ, Temple Authorities, The Romans, Zealots).
Next week: May 3rd – The First Martyr