The New Testament contains a total of 12 verses about Jesus’ childhood, the last of which sums it all up with this amazing sentence: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).
Christians throughout the centuries have tried filling in the gaps with their own imagination, wondering, for instance, whether Jesus really did obey His parents in every instance and even what games He might have played with the neighborhood kids.
On March 11, a movie about the life of the young Jesus hits theaters when “The Young Messiah” opens nationwide, imagining what the Christ child would have been like as a 7-year-old. It’s based on Anne Rice’s book, “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” although co-writer and director Cyrus Nowrasteh changed several controversial moments in that novel—ensuring for instance, that the young Jesus on the big screen doesn’t do anything that can be construed as sin.
Although the film’s concept may be provocative to some Christians, Nowrasteh told Refreshed that the story was written to attract the support of believers across the spectrum, including conservatives. Among the endorsers is Johnny Hunt, a Georgia pastor who formerly served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association.
Nowrasteh hopes the film will be a “Passion of the Christ” for the entire family.
“I’ve had a lot of people say to me, ‘I came in skeptical, but I fell in love with it.’ There’s nothing in this movie that contradicts anything in the Bible,” Nowrasteh said.
Count me among those skeptics who was won over. Although we must be careful so as not to place “The Young Messiah” on par with Scripture, it does a nice job of presenting a plausible view of Jesus’ childhood. He is loving and caring, often going out of His way to help not only family members but also strangers. He’s devoted to His Heavenly Father, waking early and walking outside one quiet morning to pray. Significantly, this portrayal of a young Jesus performs miracles—which could be a non-starter for Christians who believe He didn’t begin doing that until He was an adult.
The movie also stands out with its portrayal of Mary and Joseph as earthly parents who love and protect their son—even if they’re uncertain how it all will play out.
“How do we explain God to His own Son?” Joseph asks at one point.
“The Young Messiah” is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements.
— by Michael Foust
Foust is an editor and writer who reviews films and blogs about parenting at MichaelFoust.com.