**The following is an in-depth review of “The Young Messiah” and does contain spoilers.**
With "Smallville" we were told of the boyhood years of Superman. "Gotham" gives us the boyhood years of Batman. Now, "The Young Messiah" presents the boyhood years of Jesus Christ.
Sure, why not?
"The Young Messiah" begins with Jesus and His parents in Egypt, where they fled when King Herod I ordered the killing of all male children in Bethlehem under two years of age.
When we are first introduced to the boy Savior, He is being bullied by an Egyptian child twice his size. A strange blonde man overlooks the scene, eating an apple. During the scuffle the blonde man tosses the apple to the ground near the boys and the bully trips on it and falls dead.
Soon, the people of the village begin to blame Jesus for the death of the boy - nevermind that Jesus was literally nowhere near the boy when he tripped on the apple - and Jesus runs home to hide. A mob is formed and soon begins banging on the home of Mary and Joseph, wanting to stone the young Jesus for the murder of the boy.
Jesus is convinced by another child to sneak out and to do for the dead boy "what he did for the bird." This, of course, refers to a time - told in flashback - where Jesus healed a dead bird on a beach. Jesus sneaks away and does, in fact, raise the dead boy.
After this ordeal, Mary and Joseph decide that it is time to return to Judea. Joseph has recently been visited by an angel of the Lord who proclaimed to him of Herod's death, stating it is now safe for them to return.
The events chronicled in this film are entirely fictional. They are not based on anything in the Bible - apart from Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt after Jesus' birth and staying there until Herod's death - and are instead based on a novel by "The Vampire Chronicles" author Anne Rice.
There is a reason this period in Jesus' life isn't in the Bible. It's completely irrelevant to anything and offers nothing of merit to the audience. This is a novelty piece, and nothing more.
Herod, Jr. gets word that a child survived the massacre in Bethlehem and he charges a Roman Centurion - played by Sean Bean - to hunt down this boy and rectify the situation. The problem with this is the same problem you get with a lot of prequels: there is no suspense because we already know the outcome of this story.
The film's main theme is that Jesus is starting to ask questions about His nature and origin, and His parents are trying to avoid telling Him. They don't feel He's ready to know that He's the Son of God. While most of this film - since this period isn't touched on in the Bible - is pretty Biblically neutral, I did have some issues with this.
In the only passage from the Bible that touches upon Jesus' boyhood, we find Jesus at the age of 12 preaching in a temple. Jesus had gone missing and his parents, are frantically searching for Him. When they found Him and asked Him about running off, Jesus replied, "Why were you searching? Didn't you know I would be about my Father's business?" Then it says Mary and Joseph were confused, and therein lies the problem.
It's obvious in this movie that Mary and Joseph don't just have a vague idea of who Jesus is, or think He's just a special child, they know exactly who He is. They know he is the Son of God in the flesh. Mary even says to Jesus near the end of the film "God is your Father. You are begotten of God."
So if Mary plainly explains to Jesus the truth of His origins, why would she or Joseph be "confused" at Him claiming to be about His Father's business five or six years later?
The mysterious blonde man from the beginning is a recurring presence who is probably Satan, though there isn't really development with the character or influence on the plot. He's just there, whispering temptations into people's ears the entire time.
"The Young Messiah" isn't a bad movie, and I'm not going to say that just by nature of being extra-Biblical that it's automatically heresy. I believe this film was made with only the best of intentions, and the film does a good job of proving that by changing some of the more questionable things from Rice's novel. It's well-acted and well-directed.
If you've ever wondered what a year in the life of Jesus Christ as a child might have been like, this is probably a decent representation. I just really don't think it was a story that was screaming to be told. "The Young Messiah" has been described as Biblical fan fiction, and it's really hard not to see it that way.
The movie was very interesting, and mostly aligns with the Bible apart from the bit mentioned above. The portrayal of Jesus is very human and very identifiable. He's a normal inquisitive child Who is extremely wise beyond His years. My only realy problem with this film is the lack of a need for this story to exist. It's a novelty with really no substance.
The only real "lesson" the movie might have is that Jesus was sent here as a baby and raised as a child so that He could experience every aspect of human life, and I really don't think that's any sort of new revelation.
If you're really keen on seeing this film, you probably won't be disappointed. If you're willing to just wait for the inevitable screening at your local church, that might be the best way to see it.
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