So what was it like to raise the Son of God? When He was learning to walk, did He know He had made the flowers his feet crushed? Was He popular? Did He make childhood friends? Is it at all telling that no one ever steps forward claiming to be His best friend after His public ministry is launched? What did being fully man and fully God look like in the body and life of a seven-year-old Jesus?
“The Young Messiah” in theaters around the country on March 11, begins with these words:
Inspired by Scripture and rooted in history, this story imagines a year in the boyhood of Jesus.
Over two thousand years ago the Jews of ancient Israel suffered under Roman occupation and the oppressive rule of Rome’s puppet king, Herod the Great. This spawned rebellion and chaos.
Many Jews fled to Egypt. . .
Really? In the absence of any facts, I always imagined this little family tucking themselves into the anonymity of a foreign country to wait in the biblical equivalent of “off stage” until their next scene.
The movie is barely a minute old and I am already searching the internet for confirmation that my version was all wrong. Sure enough, a couple keystrokes reveal that there is a great deal of evidence that many Jews fled to Egypt during this period. So I’m going to learn a lot during this film. Another minute and the other side of the equation is revealed. Everyone speaks with a British accent. The explanation is as simple as the casting of Jesus. The young actor chosen to play Christ has an accent, so everyone was cast around him.
And as simple as that is and as easily tucked away as that note is, it reveals the possibilities as well as the potential weaknesses of the film.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
As “The Young Messiah” attempts to fill in some of the blanks, the power of film is also its potential weakness as the line between fact and fiction is blurred. Lines were written, characters created and deity doled out in order to create a movie that would be a financial success. On one side you have the fact that the Bible doesn’t record a single word of Joseph’s. On the other, you have a movie full of the tenderness, confusion and wonder you might associate with being chosen to raise the Son of God.
“The Young Messiah” is based on Anne Rice’s book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and is directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh known for “The Stoning of Soraya M.” The only easily recognized actor is Sean Bean, in the role of Severus, the Roman centurion ordered to hunt and kill this boy whose age fits with the prophecies and whose miracles cause Herod the Great’s son to fear his power.
On the movie’s Facebook page, Nowrasteh is quoted as saying, “As believers, we hope that children will be attracted by another child’s story, Jesus’ story, and that this can be a ‘Passion of the Christ’ for the entire family.” It was allegedly this desire that prompted the title change from “Christ the Lord” to “The Young Messiah.”
The script is tight, the settings appropriate and the humanity engaging. In the face, words and actions of this young Jesus are glimpses of the Messiah with whom we are so familiar. Perhaps its greatest success is if it sends us back to the Bible to confirm the nature and character of the God it portrays.
Anitra Parmele is a writer for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale and an on-air host for ReachFM. You can contact her at [email protected].