Movie Clip Discussions

Ben Hur


Dynamic Image

(MGM, 1959)
Main Point of Discussion: To get a glimpse at the person of Jesus

The Movie Clip: “Water from a Stranger”

It seems like every Easter I’m looking for a good movie clip to give kids a glimpse of Jesus and our need for a Savior. Movies like Amistad and Superman Returns provided good clips on this subject (you can find these movie clip discussion ideas in this section of our web site also). But I must admit, one of my favorite clips is from the 1959 film Ben Hur. Most students today haven’t seen this old classic that won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Introducing the Clip:
Who is Jesus? What was He like when He was walking around earth? How did He respond to normal people day to day? How did people respond when they saw Him?

In 1959 a film called Ben Hur won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture. This film was about a guy named Ben Hur who lived during the time of Jesus Christ. The movie isn’t about Jesus, but a couple of times during the film, Ben Hur crosses paths with Him. This is one of those scenes.

Scene Description:

Either rent the video and show the scene described below, or here it is embedded from YouTube and it can be found here:

BEGIN CLIP AT 1 hour 1 minute. (Chapter 18: titled “Water from a Stranger.”)

(Note: this scene has hardly any dialogue. The following is a scene description.)

The scene starts from the carpenter’s shop belonging to Jesus or possibly His father. (You never see Jesus’ face.) The camera moves outside where we see the approaching group of slaves including Ben Hur, played by Charlton Heston.

The slaves are literally dying of thirst. As they bring out water for the slaves, the slaves gulp it up like they haven’t had a drop in days. When it is Ben Hur’s turn, they skip him. The guard doesn’t allow him to drink. Ben Hur falls to the dirt and mutters a desperate prayer, “God . . . help me!”

Then a shadow comes over Ben Hur, as someone pours water over him and helps him drink. One of the guards tries to rebuke this unseen stranger (Jesus), but turns away shamefully when looked at by the stranger.

As the line of slaves leave, the stranger walks into view and we see the back of him . . . it looks like the typical American depiction of Jesus.

END CLIP AT 1 hour 5 minutes and 08 seconds.

Transitional Statement:
This movie seemed to capture something special about Jesus. He didn’t say a word. He wasn’t outspoken or rude. He just…cared. He acted on His compassion.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format – a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we get started, let’s go around the circle and each share our name, and our favorite holiday of the year. Why is it your favorite?
  2. ASK A FEW: In the clip we just watched, Jesus had an affect on the different people He came in contact with. What did you observe? (leader—don’t put words in their mouths because questions 3 and 4 might help them further explore this question.)
  3. ASK A FEW: If you were Ben Hur, how would you have reacted to Jesus’ kindness? What would you have felt? (leader—the answers you might be looking for: Ben Hur was thankful, but perhaps also curious who this was that was willing to not only help, but stand up to the guard.)
  4. ASK A FEW: How do you think the guard felt? (leader—the answer you might be looking for: The guard was angry at first, then fearful, then almost ashamed… as if he realized what he was doing was wrong.)

Later in Jesus’ life, he became a prisoner, wrongfully accused of crimes He didn’t commit. Even the Roman government saw his innocence. Let’s read about this.

Read the following passage:

John 18:28-38 (NLT)

 Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go in themselves because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover feast. [29] So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?” [30] “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted. [31] “Then take him away and judge him by your own laws,” Pilate told them.“Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. [32] This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die. [33] Then Pilate went back inside and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” he asked him.[34] Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” [35] “Am I a Jew?” Pilate asked. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you here. Why? What have you done?” [36] Then Jesus answered, “I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”[37] Pilate replied, “You are a king then?”“You say that I am a king, and you are right,” Jesus said. “I was born for that purpose. And I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” [38] “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.”

  1. ASK SOMEONE: Did the Roman leader Pilate find Jesus guilty?
  1. ASK A FEW: In verse 37 Pilate asks Jesus if He is a King. Jesus answers him and then tells him about “truth.” What does Jesus say about the truth?
  1. ASK A FEW: What does Jesus mean when He says He came to bring truth to the world—what truth?
  1. ASK A FEW: Jesus talks about those who “love the truth.” Who are these people?
  1. ASK A FEW: What do you think the people who “don’t love truth” are like?
  1. ASK A FEW: Jesus continues by saying “All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” What did He mean by that?

Pilate declared Jesus “not guilty.” But he also asked a question: “What is truth?” That’s a good question. The answer is Jesus.

Wrap Up:
Centuries ago, Easter found its way to our calendar to celebrate a very important event: Jesus’ resurrection. That’s right—not His death—but His resurrection. On the day we now celebrate as Easter, Jesus did something that no one has ever done—He conquered death to bring you life.

Through Christ’s death, we can have life. That is the truth. The only question you have to ask yourself is, “What do I believe?” If you are willing to put your faith in God and obey Him, then the truth will set you free.


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.


  1. Paul
    January 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Awesome clip! I love this passage too. Thanks guys!

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