Yes, the Young Messiah film opens this week and YES, it includes material that is NOT in the gospels of the bible. As many of you know, we actually have very little material in the four gospels regarding Jesus' growing up years. We see him in Matthew and Luke…we see the birth, Magi visitation, shepherds surrounding the scene as well as Jesus in the temple at age 12. THEN, we have this ONE VERSE in Luke that simply says, "Jesus grew up" (Luke 2:52). The Young Messiah film is based upon Anne Rice's WONDERFULLY written and lovingly treated story of Jesus' childhood years entitled, Christ the Lord. Truthfully, I loved that book. In addition, Anne takes the reader through HER process of attaining the information on which she based her NOVEL. Remember that…this is a NOVEL. It does NOT claim to the scripture…it is a story that has been taken from traditions that have been passed down to us primarily through the gospels that did NOT get included in the New Testament canon. You an read about what many call, "The Gnostic gospels" or the New Testament Apocrypha here. You can also read what one biblical scholar says about those gospels HERE (article published in response to the Da Vinci code book/movie by Ben Witherington).
My goal in this short post is NOT to give you a summary of the source material for this movie. Rather, it is a simple request (for those of you who are Jesus followers) to NOT be afraid to see this movie and enjoy it. I haven't seen it yet but, like I said above, it is based on a book that I very much enjoyed. The stories of Jesus' early life are diverse…based upon oral traditions, post 1st century writings, as well as speculation or imaginative readings of the texts we do possess. The point is this – no one really knows how Jesus became "self aware"…in other words, when did he really know (and begin acting) on his divinity? When did he know that he was different than other children and begin the "wrestling" or emotional/psychological processing of his "dual nature?" Do you know that it took centuries for Christians to come to some agreement on the dual nature of Jesus. THAT story is a story that would be fun to explore in and of itself. Phillip Jenkins wrote a fascinating book on that…check that out here! No one had ever tried to not only understand and comprehend but also communicate what Jesus' essential nature was all about…orthodox Jesus followers believe Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. How Christians embraced that conclusion is a "wild and wooly" chapter in history that would be worth your while to research.
In the meantime, DO NOT be afraid of The Young Messiah. I have heard it captures first century living accurately. I have heard that it handles the subject of Jesus as a child sensitively and reverently. I have heard that even those who might be seen to be on the more "conservative" spectrum of biblical analysis enjoyed it. So, enter the film with an open mind. Remember, this is a story that explores what a chapter of Jesus' life in which we have little information. It poses questions that will, most likely, get your thinking. One more thing I've heard…is that people who have seen the movie emerged from the experience with more joy and peace than they brought into the theater. As one person who recently viewed the RISEN movie twice, if that is the case, then see this movie! There is nothing better than walking out of a theater with praise and thanksgiving in your heart and a surge of curiosity that will take you back to the Bible for further reading of the one you follow and love!