“The Young Messiah,” a fictional movie depicting Jesus’ childhood, finished seventh at the box office its opening weekend, according to the website Box Office Mojo.
Evangelical reviewers praised the film’s potential as an evangelistic tool while one also warned parents to screen it before allowing children to watch. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh spoke of the challenge in attempting to portray Jesus’ full divinity and full humanity.
The Young Messiah grossed $3.4 million March 11-13 despite showing in fewer theaters than all but one of the weekend’s other top 10 grossing movies, Box Office Mojo reported. Moviegoers gave the film an A- grade, according to CinemaScore.com, the best mark of three new releases the website evaluated.
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said The Young Messiah can be used as an evangelistic tool.
The Young Messiah is “perfect to bring discussion up with friends … who maybe are not Christ followers [or] those who are no longer active in church but you want to start a conversation,” Hunt said in an online video. “This will be a perfect, perfect ministry for you to use as you view The Young Messiah and you invite your family and friends to join you.
“I personally am extremely excited about this new movie,” Hunt said. “All the Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood are giving us even a greater platform to talk more and more about the Lord Jesus.”
Phil Boatwright, movie reviewer, said the film’s goal of “present[ing] a Jesus that children could relate to” is “a noble cause.” But he cautioned parents regarding violence and sensuality that contributed to The Young Messiah’s PG-13 rating.
“My advice would be, see it first and decide if you think it’s suitable for your children,” Boatwright wrote. “It’s rated PG-13 due to violent imagery, mature subject matter and … one sensual dancing number. Some thematic elements may be difficult for little ones to understand.”
Nowrasteh, the director, told the National Catholic Register The Young Messiah’s story “is a beautiful one that honors God, that honors Jesus and, therefore, is worth telling despite the risks” of speculating about unknown aspects of the God-man’s childhood. Portraying Christ’s two natures in one person was “complicated,” he said.
“I believe, and I’ve been told from the advisers and consultants that we talked to, that Jesus was always God,” Nowrasteh said. “It seems, though, even though He never ceased being God, in His human form or experience, He veiled His divinity in accordance with the Father’s will, to experience what it was like.
“To be [human], He voluntarily put Himself in the position of needing to assimilate knowledge as a man, or a boy, would. That’s what the theologians told me and why they felt this was orthodox and we were justified in going down this path,” he said.
The Young Messiah stars Sean Bean, Vincent Walsh and Sara Lazzaro, and casts Adam Greaves-Neal as the 7-year-old Jesus. It is adapted from Anne Rice’s novel, “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.”
— by David Roach | BP