Jesus Revolution has taken Hollywood by storm. The Lionsgate production has broken box office records, becoming the company’s highest-grossing movie since 2019, at well above $30 million. The film is based on a true story, documenting how tens of thousands of counterculture young people (hippies) came to know and follow Jesus in the late 1960s and early 70s.
The narrative revolves around the lives of four main characters: Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney, Super 8, The Kissing Booth), Cathe Martin (Anna Grace Barlow, The Big Leap, Grey’s Anatomy), Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Roumie, The Chosen), and Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer, Cheers, Frasier). Greg has seven stepdads and is a disillusioned 17-year-old living in a trailer with his alcoholic mother. Cathe is a young, pretty socialite type caught up in the hippie scene through the influence of her older sister. Lonnie is a charismatic hippie preacher, and Chuck is a middle-aged conservative pastor of a small church.
The Late 1960s and Early 2020s
The movie does a fantastic job of recreating Southern California culture as it was in the late 60s, with a beach concert featuring Janis Joplin and a pro-LSD sermon preached by none other than Timothy Leary. Naturally, the film has drawn in many Christians, as was expected. What was not expected? The number of non-religious people flocking to the theaters to see the movie. The reasons seem to be wide-ranging. The depiction of the times is authentic. The portrayals are non-judgmental, in that the characters are not condemned even though their lives are obviously a mess. And Jesus is seen as being outside of the “religious” context, gracious and welcoming, a friend of sinners, you might say. To be clear, no one plays Jesus in the film. But he is front and center, seen in the humility and love shown by Chuck Smith when he opens the doors of his church to welcome in the hippies and in the simplicity and sincerity of Lonnie Frisbee, the radical hippie preacher who “looks” like Jesus, at least how some people imagine him to look.
The movie might also resonate with so many because of the similarities to our current times. The late 1960s shares many parallels with the early 2020s. The social unrest, racism, riots, war, and drug epidemic destroying the lives of many young people seem very much like the messages we are seeing and hearing in our news feeds today.
In contrast, the film’s message is this—no matter how messed up, broken, empty, or hopeless your life may be, Jesus is the answer. Greg has given up hope of finding any real happiness or purpose. As a result, he decides to tune in, turn on, and drop out, like so many others. Just when things are spinning completely out of control, Lonnie Frisbee visits Greg’s high school campus and preaches a gospel message. Listening from a distance, not wanting to get too close to the Jesus freaks, Greg is intrigued. After wrestling with Jesus’ words, You’re either for me or against me, he gives in, surrendering himself to Christ. From this point forward, everything changes. Things are far from perfect (the movie keeps it real), but the big questions of life—Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?—have all been answered.
The Message of the Jesus Revolution Is for You
Maybe you have the same types of questions today. You feel that life is without purpose and without hope. This is understandable; after all, the world is in the same mess now as it was then. Why? What’s it all about? Is there any peace in the midst of this madness? Yes, believe it or not, there is! Jesus said, Come to me, and I will give you peace (see Matt. 11:28).
Like those in the film, in the mid-1970s, I, too, was a young, aimless, restless soul. I had tried everything the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll culture had to offer but still came up empty. I had even encountered a few Jesus freaks, and they were just a bit too freaky for me. Then one day, I randomly opened a Bible and read the following words of Jesus:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
These Scriptures struck a chord deep in my soul, and I accepted the invitation from Jesus to come. For me, just like many others, everything changed. My problems did not automatically go away, but the big questions, those that kept me up at night, were answered. The Jesus who saved untold thousands in the Jesus Revolution of the 1960s is still saving people today. He alone can give hope and bring real purpose to our lives. And he has a plan and purpose for your life. Receive him today, and watch and see what he will do.