Less than two weeks shy of the Easter Sunday premiere of "A.D. – The Bible Continues" on NBC, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett offered additional insight into the pivotal scene of Jesus' crucifixion in the highly-anticipated series.
While "A.D." will be family-friendly, the Biblically-based series features Jesus' grisly death on the cross in what Downey says is a contrast between light and dark. The "Touched by an Angel" star and her husband produced "A.D." with help from their company, Lightworkers, which helped to carefully portray the darkness of the crucifixion as well as the light in Jesus rising from the dead.
"Of course, light moves throughout the Bible, but it shines brightest when we understand that it's often because it's set in the darkest of times," Downey told The Christian Post. "The crucifixion is clearly one of the most gruesome, darkest moments in the story, and we wanted to show what Jesus went through. I don't think that any of it is gratuitous, but it is painful to watch. But it contrasted against what is the light and magnificence and the promise of the resurrection."
"A.D." picks up where the "Bible" series left off, starting with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that altered history. The series chronicles several of the most intense and tumultuous decades in history as well as the birth of the early church. Giving viewers a taste of what is in store from the "Bible" series follow-up, Downey went on to describe the resurrection scene in the first episode of "A.D." in greater detail.
"That moment when we have seen that it's taken six to seven men to push that stone in front of the tomb, and we understand that the Romans and the temple authorities there fear that this prophecy will be fulfilled and placed both temple and Roman guards at the tomb," the actress detailed. "Then on Easter morning, we see the light beginning to radiate behind the closed tomb, and then the heavens move, and the amazing angels show up and glory of God is magnified. Then He pushes away that stone and those soldiers pull their hands over the faces because they are blinded by the magnificence of the light, and we know that this is just the beginning."
Furthermore, Burnett noted that "A.D" entertains audiences all while educating them on the Book of Acts. However, the "Shark Tank" producer clarified that the series is respectful to both believers and non-believers.
"You get to follow along with Acts, but you also get a great drama of Roman life, of domestic life, and you get swept up in the story," he told CP. "So people are not going to feel preached to ... it is not our mission to preach to people."
Burnett also compared "A.D." to today's leading television series, including HBO's "Game of Thrones," while setting the "Bible" series follow-up apart from "crappy programming" that is often associated with Christian entertainment.
"It's primetime TV, and the hope is that the way people have been speaking about 'Game of Thrones' for five years now, they will talk about, 'Oh I can't wait for 'A.D.' to come back next year," the producer explained. "That's what we want. We want to be honoring to our faith and honoring in an artistic way. Young Christians get embarrassed by crappy programming, we don't want to be that, we've met with Winterjam and Teen Mania and they're like, 'Don't make it embarrassing.'"
"A.D. – The Bible Continues" premieres on Sunday, April 5, where it will run for 12 consecutive Sundays on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. Watch a trailer for the series here.