“The Young Messiah”

The Young MessiahYM
Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, co-written by Cyrus Nowrasteh and Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, and featuring Adam Greaves-Neal as Jesus, Sara Lazzaro as Mary, Vincent Walsh as Joseph, and Sean Bean as Roman centurion, Severus.

In this mostly fictional account, Joseph and his family constantly stay one step ahead of danger. A watchful and determined demon (unnamed but understood to be Satan) manipulates people and circumstances to try to bring harm to the child, Jesus. A Roman centurion, Severus, has been ordered by Herod Antipas to find and kill the young boy and he tracks Him to the temple of Jerusalem, leading to the film’s climax.

My wife and I and two of our granddaughters went to see “The Young Messiah” at the theater last Sunday and we all enjoyed it very much. The film is loosely based on Anne Rice’s, “Christ the Lord Out of Egypt.” Scripture actually says very little about Jesus’ childhood but we’ve all wondered about His life growing up with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. Being both human and divine, what did He know and when did He know it? Traditions and legends abound but we’ll never know the truth this side of eternity.

The story, acting, and sets are all well done. Greaves-Neal shines as the loving, empathetic, young Jesus and Bean gives a fine performance as the grizzled soldier. The writers took a bit of a Catholic approach by depicting Jesus as Mary’s only child with young James as His cousin but I don’t mean to make a mountain out of a molehill. It also struck me as specious that a Roman centurion would take direct orders from and be threatened by the appointed tetrarch of a conquered territory, but I quibble.

Some Christians object to all Hollywood portrayals of Jesus and other Biblical characters and events. I agree that people should not get their theology from Hollywood scriptwriters but I also believe the Lord can definitely use films like “The Young Messiah” and “Risen” to spark an interest in spiritual matters and draw people to Him. I pray the Lord will work in many hearts through “The Young Messiah.”

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