Last week I wrote about the unbiblical basis for The Young Messiah, and why the producers and creators themselves are problematic for any discerning Christian. The movie releases today, and while I have not seen it to review it, others have. The following is a snippet from Patheos Progressive Christian Channel contributor James McGrath, who -after all that you are about to read - still highly recommends this movie - rather than warning people away:
"The story begins with text suggesting that many Jews fled to Egypt during the time of King Herod, as he was an oppressive puppet of the Romans. That seems an odd suggestion, given that Egypt was under Roman rule. The story focuses on one year in the childhood of Jesus, when he was seven years old. It includes material inspired by extracanonical texts.
"Jesus is picked on by a bully, and when a girl who is Jesus’ cousin tells him to stop, the bully goes to chase her. A man standing nearby – whom we are given to understand is the Devil, as no one else can see him – causes the boy to fall and he dies. The girl tells Jesus to raise the boy, even as once before he had restored a dead bird to life. James is included in the movie, also said to be a cousin of Jesus.
"After Herod dies, Joseph decides it is time to go “back” to Galilee. As they travel, Jesus finds himself in the middle of an attempt by locals to ambush a Roman patrol (led by a centurion played by Sean Bean). We are also given opportunity to see Herod’s son plotting to kill the messiah, and mention of Sepphoris as the city where Mary was born. A particularly poignant scene is when Jesus’ family on their journey come across a place where the Romans are carrying out executions by crucifixion. Mary recites Psalm 23. Another beautiful scene is when Mary’s aged mother saves the lives of the freshly-arrived family of Joseph and Mary from Roman troops, by showing them hospitality and understanding – offering them good wine, but also recognizing that what they are there to do is a hard thing.
"There is a moment when Jesus becomes ill with a fever, and he has a conversation with Satan. He tells Satan that he is never to touch him, and that he does not know what is going to happen. Satan calls Jesus “angel boy,” says his mother is a whore, and says that Jesus’ little miracles cannot save these people since chaos rules, and he (Satan) is its prince. Jesus recovers and he and his family goes to Jerusalem for Passover. While they are away, the Romans return looking for the boy who is seven years old and was born in Bethlehem. Mary’s mother Sarah is forced to give up the name of the child, Jesus bar Joseph, in order to save the life of the girl, Jesus’ cousin. While the family is traveling,
"James tells Jesus that he has hated him since before he was born. He tells him about his recollection of when Jesus was a baby, and three nobles came with gifts, calling Jesus a king. Soon thereafter, it begins to rain, and Jesus and his family seeks shelter in a cave – just in time to be hidden when the Romans show up looking for him. When the family turns back in fear, Jesus leaves them behind. James tells them that they should have seen it coming – they won’t give Jesus answers to his questions, and so it was inevitable that he would seek them in Jerusalem. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, a Roman soldier asks him his name, and when Jesus does not reply, a couple that is next to him says that he cannot speak, that he has been like that since birth, and the soldier lets them continue. Realizing that he is there on his own, the man and his wife give Jesus a couple of coins.
"The depiction of the temple, and the buying and selling of animals, is striking. A woman haggles with a seller over a dove with a defect. Jesus buys it with one of the coins, and lets it go. Jesus then goes to Solomon’s Portico to talk to the rabbis. From one old blind rabbi, Jesus learns about the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem, and it brings him to tears. Satan, meanwhile, prompts the centurion to head towards the blind rabbi. The centurion sees Jesus there, but also recognizes that what he has to do should be done outside and quietly rather than in the temple amidst the Jewish crowd. But they are distracted by the fact that the rabbi who had been blind shouts that he can now see. Nevertheless, the crowd parts, and the centurion finds himself face to face with Jesus. The centurion asks him if he healed the rabbi, and he says yes. The centurion (whose name we learn is Severus) asks him who he is. Jesus knows somehow that Severus had been in Bethlehem, party to the slaughter there. Now, confronted with Jesus standing before him, sword drawn, Severus tells Jesus – and his parents who have now caught up with him – to go. Severus tells Archelaus that he killed Jesus, and as he leaves we see that he has kept a toy camel belonging to Jesus, which Jesus had dropped in the temple.
"Towards the end of the movie, Mary finally tells Jesus about the events surrounding his conception. Mary explains that the angel is not Jesus’ father, God is. Jesus is puzzled, and points out that all are children of God. Mary explains that this is true, but that he is special. She counsels Jesus to keep his power inside him until his heavenly Father tells him it is time to use it. We then get a monologue from the young Jesus to bring the film to a close. Jesus says there is still so much that he does not know, but he thinks that his reason for living is, for the time being, to simply experience it all, even when it hurts. It isn’t clear whether that last detail is alluding to the idea of an incarnation, aimed at God experiencing what it is like to be human. The child is not even hinted at being divine.
Conclusion: The writer still thinks it's a great idea to see this tripe:
"On the whole, I found the movie enjoyable throughout and profoundly moving in key moments. And so for anyone who is able to enjoy a good movie, a good story, without having it spoiled by nitpicking of historical details, this movie is one that I can highly recommend."