Jesus of Nazareth Viewing Guide

This coming Monday, we will be showing a 45-minute segment of Jesus of Nazareth, the film by Franco Zeffirelli. The segment begins with Jesus carrying his cross and goes to the end of the film. Here is the viewing/discussion guide I’ve put together (the red text is teacher talking points – the students will have a version with the questions only). We will pause the film at these various scenes to discuss. As always, feel free to use this!

Jesus of Nazareth Video – Viewing/Discussion Guide

1.       Who is the man pacing about the Temple?

·         This is a fictional Jewish temple official – Zerah – who wants to put an end to Jesus and his followers


2.       Why is Jesus carrying his cross this way?

·         Historians/bible scholars believe that criminals carried their crossbar on their shoulders on their way to crucifixion as opposed to carrying the entire cross


3.       Who is this man who catches the eye of Jesus?

·         Nicodemus is a Pharisee who met Jesus earlier and asked him how a man can be born again

·         Nicodemus is the man who, with Joseph of Arimathea, helped to prepare the corpse of Jesus for burial (Jn 19:38-42)


4.       What is the name of the woman who wipes the face of Jesus?

·         Her name is Veronica, a name that means “true image”

·         Veronica  showed great courage to break through the crowds to show compassion to Jesus

·         Tradition says that an impression of Jesus’ face was left on the cloth

·         This scene is depicted in the Stations of the Cross


5.       Why are the letters INRI inscribed above Jesus’ head on the Cross?

·         Pontius Pilate ordered that the title Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews be posted above Jesus’ head

·         The letters INRI represent the first letter of each word in Latin

·         Meant to be a form of mockery, it speaks the truth about Jesus


6.       Who are the thieves crucified on each side of Jesus?

·         The “good”  thief is traditionally known as Dismas and the “bad” thief is traditionally known as Gestas

·         Gestas taunts Jesus, Dismas defends Jesus and asks him, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom”

·         It is from this exchange that we get the beautiful hymn: Jesus, Remember Me


7.       Who is at the foot of the cross?

·         Mary, the Mother of Jesus stands at the foot of the cross

·         Traditional song, Stabat Mater – “At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful mother weeping”

·         Mary is joined by some other women including Mary Magdalene and by John the Apostle – this little group is referred to as the Little Company of Mary (sound familiar?) <Little Company of Mary Hospital is several blocks from the parish!>



8.       What does Jesus says to John?

·         Jesus says, “Behold, your mother.”

·         From this scene, we come to see Mary as the mother of the Church

·         John is the only apostle at the cross…all the others fled


9.       What is it that Jesus cries out from the cross?

·         The Hebrew words, “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani!”

·         Jesus is praying Psalm 51

·         My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?


10.   What is Nicodemus saying as he looks upon Jesus on the cross?

·         He is quoting Isaiah 53, a prayer about the suffering servant of God

·         Nicodemus comes to understand that to be born again, one has to die to their old self


11.   Who is it that is weeping so bitterly and why would he be weeping?

·         Peter had promised Jesus he would follow him to the end

·         Instead, Peter ended up denying 3 times that he even knew Jesus


12.   When Jesus is taken down from the cross, to whom is he given?

·         Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother, Mary

·         This scene was depicted by Michelangelo in his famous sculpture The Pieta

·         Pieta means pity

·         Displayed at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (the Vatican)


13.   Why is Zerah so interested in having the tomb of Jesus guarded?

·         Jewish officials feared that followers of Jesus would steal the body and claim Jesus had been raised from the dead

·         Roman and Jewish guards were placed at the tomb


14.   Who came to the tomb on Sunday morning? Why?

·         Mary Magdalene along with 2 other women

·         It was Jewish custom to anoint the body with oils

·         They encounter a gardener who asks, “why do you seek the living among the dead?”


15.   Where are the Apostles hiding and why are they hiding?

·         They are in the upper room, the same room where the Last Supper had been held

·         The apostles were afraid of being arrested as followers of Jesus

·         Mary Magdalene brings them the news of the Resurrection

·         They doubt (Thomas in particular – “doubting Thomas”)

About Joe Paprocki 2321 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

8 Comments on Jesus of Nazareth Viewing Guide

  1. Do you complete questions for Jesus of Nazareth movie? Please let me know. I used to have a guide for the movie for youth and adults….

  2. PLease correct an answer to the question “who catches jesus’ eye?” Nicodemis was not the one who provided a tomb for Jesus. It was Joseph of Aramethea who provided the tomb. I apoligize for misspelling!

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