header photo

Prophetic Endurance

Bruce Marchiano on Portraying Jesus

I will never forget the first time I was asked to play Jesus. The film was The Gospel According to Matthew, a Word-for-Word dramatization in the NIV.  The director (South African, Regardt van den Bergh) was looking for a “more real, down-to-earth looking Jesus” as opposed to the traditional statuesque figure. He was looking for an actor who was born again.

The director scheduled me for an audition and the next thing I knew I had a beard and long hair, and was on my way to Morocco to portray the Son of the living God. Wow! And I would never look back. My life and career would never be the same.

When Matthew was released, I was jettisoned into a speaking ministry that’s taken me around the globe many times over. At the same time, I was asked to portray Jesus again and again… even to this day in The Encounter and my newest film release, Alison’s Choice. It takes my breath away just to type the words. Glory to Jesus!

So what’s it like to play Jesus? It’s equally the most wondrous and responsibility-laden experience you could imagine. I’m deeply aware that people across the world make decisions about Him based on what I do before the camera. That’s a huge weight on my shoulders even as it is an incredible privilege. And the enormity of the task is so incomprehensible there’s only one thing to do in preparation: go to my knees and deep into His Word, crying out to Him to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” as only He can (Ephesians 3:20).

It would take volumes to tell the whole story, but as I prepared for Matthew, I came to base my portrayal of Jesus on Psalm 139:13: “…you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” In other words, in the character of Jesus, every pair of eyes I looked into would be “my baby.” That for me was the key – handle each person, no matter who they were, as if he/she was my very own baby.

Out of that simple reality flowed the depth of care and compassion, love and faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness, authority and truth, leadership and humility…all the aspects of His nature, manner, character and person – the person of the living God! As an actor portraying Jesus, it’s the fountainhead of every moment of joyous laughter, strong rebuke, and tear over the lostness of precious souls. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Matthew 23:37).

Bruce Marchiano directs Marchiano Ministries in Hollywood California. Used by permission.