“We have found each other in faith,” Peter declares to believers in the crowded upper room, impacting both them and the TV audience. The supernatural bond of unity portrayed by the early Christians is woven seamlessly throughout this A.D. plotline filled with persecution and political unrest.
“The Wrath,” Episode 4 of the 12-week miniseries A.D. The Bible Continues Sunday nights on NBC, further reveals the relentless persecution of Peter and John by Caiaphas, High Priest of the Jews, while interweaving the frightening political climate of Pilate’s brutal crusade of revenge for the life of a single Roman soldier. All the while, we see the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through Peter and John and the growing throngs of believers.
This was the most graphic episode so far; living up to Mark Burnett’s description of what viewers can expect from the series, “This is a Game of Thrones meets the Bible.”
The extraordinary passion, skill and talent of the Burnett/Downey team is undeniable as we watch the accurate depiction of historical context explode on the screen.
Clearly the weight of the responsibility to deliver accuracy was a driving motivation, as the producers painstakingly used detailed research by biblical scholars, along with vast research of historical accounts from Titus Flavius Josephus and other historians, to ensure a truthful representation of biblical times.
Viewers are drawn into an ancient world as A.D. paints a Jerusalem filled with people struggling to survive in a world of political dissidence. The stage is set for the conflict between the gatekeepers of the Old Testament and the disciples of the New Testament. At the center of it all is the great temple in the heart of Old Jerusalem – a location that shaped our history, creating lasting spiritual imprints on the hearts of Christians for all time.
The script is exceptional with commanding plotlines and intrigue. Impactful dialogue delivered by the hand picked ensemble cast featured in this episode: Vincent Regan, Richard Coyle, Adam Levy, and Babou Ceesay, will astound audiences.
Pilate, portrayed by Vincent Regan, is on a mission to find and punish the assassin of a lone Roman guard. His search is disturbingly intense as he tells Caiaphas, portrayed by Richard Coyle, that ten Jews will be crucified each day until they find the man who killed the fallen soldier. The cinematography and score combine to great a weighty, dark mood of contrasts between the temple and erected crosses, painting vivid details of the action taking place.
Meanwhile, Caiaphas fails to convict Peter and John during their trial. The lame beggar testifies as the High Priest brings accusations against the Apostles that they were merely creating an “illusion of healing” to draw attention. (Act 3:6)
Caiaphas tries to discredit the beggar who was healed, accusing him of theatrics, and claiming that he was only playing a part to gain money. Although he was bribed to lie, the beggar testified boldly that he had never walked a day in his life. This scene was deeply moving as the beggar testifies to the power of Jesus Christ.
At the trial of Peter and John, the Holy Spirit moves dramatically as a gust of wind, illustrating that He was visibly present with them. Shifting the focus between the crowds and those in authority, the cinematography highlights and emphases the Holy Spirit moving mightily through Peter and John.
In a compelling scene Peter cradles a sick girl as the mother hovers in the background desperate for a miracle. The gripping scene is short, yet not lacking in power. (Acts 9:39-41) Peter holds the little girl and speaks to her to softly to “be healed” once and then again with greater intensity before she gasps and life returns to her.
In a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter, Roma Downey said “For us, it’s just about telling these stories in a very human way. These characters didn’t know they were in the Bible. They didn’t know the outcome from the Bible. They’re humans; they’re flawed humans,” Downey said, adding, “And we wanted to show it with grittiness and authenticity in a compelling, surprising way to draw the viewer in.”
Later the disciples return to the upper room to find encouragement from Peter to live in community and support one another. Ananias and Sapphira are introduced into the story with the noble intention of offering their entire earnings from selling their home. With a change of heart, the couple decides that they can only part with some of their wealth and must lie about it. Later, Ananias is confronted for lying to the Holy Spirit and dies. Peter then asks Sapphira to “speak truthfully” and after quickly defending their actions Sapphira dies.
The episode concludes with Caiaphas approaching Pilate asking for the crucifixions to cease after chanting in prayer and covering himself with ashes, symbolic of mourning. The scene is dusty and dramatic as the High Priest mourns publicly. After a heated debate Caiaphas is then restrained by force as Pilate concludes the episode with the foreboding statement: “I will continue as I see fit till I have what I want.”
Rage lingers in the air, leaving viewers sitting on the edge of their seats in anticipation for next Sunday night!
For more on A.D., check out Mark Burnett & Roma Downey Encourage Essentials of Faith & Hope In ‘A.D.’