Hello my name is Sara and I’m a Jew for Jesus. Not that kind of Jew for Jesus. (Cue audible sigh of relief from my mother.) More like the “Everything I Do, I Do it For Jesus” heart struck, Ryan Adams kind. The “I Only Have Eyes For Jesus” lovah-lovah kind. Why? For one simple and admittedly shallow reason: He’s hot. That’s right, Diogo Morgado, the actor who plays the The Chosen One in the new movie Son of God is one beautiful being—however almighty he may be. The silky, scraggly bedhead, the I-don’t-care facial scruff, the hazel eyes and the just-moist pouty lips—that’s what digs deep into my soul.
The film, which is the first of its kind in decades, also marks famed reality TV producer Mark Burnett’s first foray into scripted drama and follows the success of he and his wife Roma Downey’s hit series on the History Channel, The Bible, in which Mr. Hunka-Hunka-Burning-Love also starred.
Morgado’s Portuguese Brad Pitt-meets-Bradley Cooper looks are what pushed me, a mostly spiritual, I-pray-for-the-babka Jew who was Bat Mitzvah’d and still fasts on Yom Kippur (save for that very necessary cup of coffee in the morning), to go and see the new film.
It probably goes without saying that I may be one of the only members of my tribe to go and do so. See, despite him being an original tribe member, we don’t so much believe in Jesus. In fact, up until this past summer on a trip to the Holy Land during which I walked the Via Dolorosa in the Old City, I’d only had two eye-opening interactions with the man known to many as The Messiah.
The first was quite literal: Shortly after waking up in an ex’s apartment and shuffling half-awake to brush my teeth, I looked up to see Jesus hanging on a cross next to the bathroom mirror. Taken aback, toothpaste dribbling down my chin, I stood there befuddled, not quite sure what to do next. I had dated non-Jews before, but none went so far as to decorate their home with such blatantly pious trinkets. So I did all I could do: rinse, spit and climb back into bed. Needless to say, Bathroom Jesus Guy and I did not last, despite his supposed attraction to my nonchalant attitude toward his Catholicism. I’m pretty sure it was for the best.
The second interaction I had with Jesus occurred from Row V of the orchestra section at the Neil Simon theater back in 2012 when I went to see a revival performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. I’d never seen the classic Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, and being the theater geek that I am, I wanted to add the Playbill to my continuously growing stack. Ironically, I came out singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and with a major crush not on Jesus, but Judas. Or really, Josh Young, the actor who played Judas. (I actually went home and Googled him to discover we not only went to the same college, but that he’s a conservative Jew, too!)
If you’re sensing a theme here, well, you might be onto something: Both of my experiences with the man who launched the world’s largest religion were trivial and either accidental or ulterior in motive. But can you blame me? I grew up going to Hebrew School and eating cookies called Hamenstaschen. My story, or rather the story I was told, was completely different. In fact, Jesus was a mere speck in the arid, dry, desert landscape of the historical ground we covered—if even mentioned at all.
It’s no wonder I was warm in the cheeks at the mere thought of this handsome man in a robe and Birkenstocks. Like most of the guys I’m attracted to, he was a mystery! Unattainable, even! (If, perhaps, in the most obvious way.)
So there I sat, waiting to be dazzled by His Holiness.
To my surprise, the movie began with action clips from familiar biblical stories of Judaic origin: Adam and Eve, Noah and his ark, Moses and the Red Sea.
“Moses led our people out of Egypt,” said a voiceover.
Right-o, he did! I thought to myself, mentally repeating the words we say each Passover: “With an almighty arm and an outstretched hand.”
Then Jesus was born and things got a bit…hokey. (This coming from someone who has studied mysticism and went on a manifestation yoga retreat.)
For no apparent reason, baby Jesus was deemed special. Next thing we know, he’s bringing fish to a sea that was thought to be empty, movement to a man’s paralyzed legs and practically flipping tables with his mind (to which the lines “Oh Jesus!” were exclaimed, prompting me to giggle at this possible explanation for the phrase’s colloquial use in modern times).
Now, I’m not quite sure why all this appeared any more ridiculous than, say, Sarah giving birth to Isaac at 99 years of age or frogs falling from the sky, which are just a few of the out-there “miracles” we learned about in Hebrew School. But it did.
“Believe in me and you will see the glory of God,” Jesus said to his disciples and non-believers alike.
Can’t we just believe, in general? I wondered. After all, who does this guy think he is?
Sure enough, what happens when a hot guy tries too hard happened: I lost interest. Instead of playing it cool, and easing me into his mystical methodology so I could get on board in my own time, with my own sense of clarity, he went whole-hog right off the bat, practically begging for my devotion. And, as men who use this blatant tactic are wont to do, he became a turn off.
All I could see now was that his once sexy, scraggly hair was so obviously a wig. (The nerve!) Not even the extreme close-ups of his heavenly hazel eyes, which enabled me to practically count the hairs on his brows, could save him now. Jesus was dead to me too.
Now, if the actor Diogo Morgado appeared at my doorstep looking for some praise? Well, I’d say I’ve seen the light.