I was so excited to go see the movie, The Young Messiah, based on the book of the same title by Ann Rice. I was hoping that the movie would be great for children as they peered back into time and discovered that Jesus was a child, just like them! I wanted him to play, go to synagogue, work with his daddy in the carpenter shop, help his mommy bake bread, and light his holy candles at home.
Instead, Jesus was portrayed as a weak child, confused about who he was, who grew up being visited by the devil on a regular basis, healed people without even knowing what he had done (sort of like Tabitha on the old T.V. show Bewitched), and whose parents were in a constant state of fear that no one find out who their child really was. In fact, they are so fearful and refuse to answer his questions, that he runs away from them to the Temple in a desperate attempt to get answers.
The movie is scary! The devil, the Romans hunting for him, crucified people, a man raping a woman… this is not a movie for children. And it not a movie based on the Bible. I understand that there are very few stories of Jesus as a child in the Bible and so at first glance it might seem that to fill a 2 hour movie, lots of things need to be assumed. I agree. However, we do know historically about the Jewish life of children at the time of Christ and we know enough about his family and Nazareth, Egypt, Bethlehem etc. that we could have seen what his “common” everyday life as a human child might have been like. Instead we watch two hours of the devil hunting him, parents who are emotionally disconnected from their child, the cruelness of the Romans and Jesus as a clueless victim.
Teaching children that Jesus was a child, who played, loved his mommy and daddy, prayed at home, went to his house of worship, loved good food and celebrated some really important holidays like Passover and Sabbath in his home is so important. Teaching children that he lived in an occupied country where people were persecuted and where corruption existed can be done sensitively. Unfortunately, in my opinion, The Young Messiah, did not capture the everyday childhood experiences of Jesus, and the scenes of streets lined with crucified victims and men raping women were much too violent. This movie is not an appropriate teaching tool for us to use with children. I wish … a movie that truly captures his precious childhood will be made … but this is not it.