The new 2023 film "Jesus Revolution" has been causing quite a stir among moviegoers and critics alike. Based on the fascinating real-life history of the revival that swept through California in the 1970s among the hippie counterculture, the film presents an inspiring story of spiritual awakening and redemption.
Jesus Revolution tells the story of what may be considered the greatest spiritual awakening the United States of America has seen. This exciting new film is sure to be a must-see for anyone interested in the American history of revival or if you want to just sit down and watch an amazing film.
Summary of Jesus Revolution
The movie "Jesus Revolution" is presented to the viewer through the life of a young Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney). During the 1960s and 1970s, young people searched for an end to destruction and hate, and an escape from a dying world.
In this true story, our main character, Greg Laurie, raised by his struggling mother and hurt from trauma in the past, seeks something better than himself. It is one young hippie's quest to find and redefine truth in sunny southern California and we have the pleasure of following him in this film as Greg Laurie does just that.
Moment Breakdowns (Spoilers)
In the Beginning
In the opening scenes of Jesus Revolution, we see a counterculture movement sweeping over the nation. The hippies are in pursuit of liberation from this world and are seeking out the truth.
This is where the audience is first introduced to Greg Laurie and later Pastor Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer). Greg Laurie represents the desire to find truth and Pastor Chuck Smith is the church and their response to a desperate culture.
We are given two narratives, one from the world and one from the church. The world is willing to try anything to seek love, peace, and acceptance. Greg Laurie, being the representation of the world, finds himself confined to a system that he desperately wants out of and when given the opportunity, he takes it. Rebelling against the authority in his school twice, Greg Laurie makes the escape with a group of hippies, a wandering youth, and a newfound love. From the academy to a high school campus
Pastor Chuck Smith, on the other hand, finds himself against the new movement and what the hippies are doing. The doors of Smith's languishing church, Calvary Chapel, were closed along with his heart toward the people. His congregation was no different. It was Smith’s daughter that challenged him and brought forth the opportunity to have a change of heart.
Jannett Smith, the pastor's daughter, finds Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie) a charismatic hippie street preacher on the side of the road and he becomes the bridge between the church and the hippies. The conversation between Lonnie and the pastor changes the heart of the pastor.
We first see the pastor defensive and it is revealed that he did not want a conversation with a hippie at all. Lonnie reveals to the pastor that everything that hippies are doing points to God but no one realizes this and makes the hippies the outcasts, Lonnie reveals the hippies are looking for the truth but they are looking in the wrong places.
The hippies are a desperate group of people that desire the truth. He brings Pastor Smith to a question about his desperation for the people of this world and bringing people to Christ. Pastor Smith repents and it was a decision not many would make. This is the very start of the Jesus movement that would soon sweep over the country.
The Combining of Two Worlds
This movie does not shy away from drug use and the effects it has. The turning point of Laurie's life is a near-death experience he has while in the backseat of the van under the influence along with everyone else in the car. Greg Laurie gets outs of the car after Charlie (his hippie friend) almost wrecks the car.
As he is walking around trying to find his way back home, he stumbles onto a car where on the window the word "die" is written. This is obviously his imagination but he is freaked out. This is where Laurie meets Lonnie Frisbee. A powerful encounter that connects the world with the church. Lonnie releases a word to Laurie telling him he does not have to run from Jesus any longer.
As this is happening, Cathe (Anna Grace Barlow) is seeking truth for herself as well. She tells us that she has tried everything and the drugs are not the answer but believes that Christianity and Jesus can be the answer to the truth she is trying to find.
In my opinion, this is the most powerful scene in the movie. We watch as the young Greg Laurie approaches Pirates Cove with Cathe hesitant about the decision he is about to make. He comes up to the beach still processing and trying to understand what is happening. As he goes into the water and meets Lonnie again, he is still uncertain but finds the faith to make the decision on the spot after praying.
Lonnie baptizes Laurie and we witness a beautiful scene where Laurie makes an impact on the water and falls into the depths limp and lifeless. It is as if he is dead. Then we see a finger twitch and Laurie comes back to life and in the water, there is the conscious decision to swim back up to the surface towards the light.
This is a beautiful picture of baptism and being born again. He went into the water, dead to his old life, and swims back up alive in Christ forever changed.
Lies Creeping Back In
There are moments in this movie that are heartbreaking. One of those moments is when Greg Laurie falls back into the lies of abandonment. After Laurie's mom gets into a major car accident, she reveals to Laurie that the father figure that he looked up to growing up was not actually his real dad. That father figure did not leave but rather it was Laurie's mom who left out of fear that he would eventually leave.
At the same moment, Lonnie Frisbee parts ways from the ministry and Pastor Smith releases Laurie from his position in the church. Laurie feels his life falling apart and is deceived by the lie of abandonment, he makes no effort to save his relationship with Cathe.
Reconciliation and Restoration
The end of the movie is a beautiful ending showing how God will restore and reconcile everything. Beginning with Laurie, he is the first to be reconciled and restored by God. As he talks with the reporter something shifts in Laurie's life and I believe in that moment he was reconciled in his relationship with God.
After this, we follow Laurie as he continues to restore relationships and be reconciled with people. He goes to his mother first and reconciled with her, restoring that relationship and even bringing his mother to salvation and freedom.
Next is his relationship with Pastor Chuck Smith and we see a beautiful transaction of forgiveness. Here is where Laurie is restored in his position in ministry. Earlier in the movie, he acted as a youth speaker and now has been gifted a church which is now Harvest Christian Fellowship. Turning one counterculture movement into a revival, Laurie led the hippies into becoming Jesus freaks.
Lastly, Laurie's relationship with Cathe is restored and they end up getting married.
There are plenty of faith-based films out there, but only a few stick out. Jesus Revolution is a movie that sticks out with a powerful message and a look into history. Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle did such an excellent job bringing this beautiful story onto the big screen.