09 Jan, 2020 New Messiah Netflix Show is Loaded With Deception
Based on prerelease reviews and the people involved in its making, this series could be compelling. But it’s not. As a fan of Christian media as well as spy-thriller suspense like Tom Clancy adaptations, this writer is not impressed by Netflix’s “Messiah.”
If you choose to watch this series, do so with caution and without high expectations for the portrayal of Christianity. It may be appropriate to watch with older teens but use it as a tool to discuss discernment and how to pursue truth and what deception looks like. For accurate portrayals of Christians in film and television series, choose Pureflix.
Not a Christian series
The story centers around nonbelievers. This comes as no surprise because it’s on Netflix, but there are no true Christians in the show.
However, there are two stereotyped Christians portrayed in the show. The first is a millionaire televangelist who is skeptical of the “messiah” yet not from a Biblical perspective. He only shows up in the story on occasion and without much impact. The second is his son-in-law who is a preacher. This man, Felix, is essentially broken. He struggles in his marriage and relationship with his daughter, does not live with any kind of visible faith, and jumps on the bandwagon of the purported “messiah” without prayer or Scriptural consultation.
The preacher should know how to dive into the Word, should know to pray, should feel the Holy Spirit’s guidance but there is no reference to that. No one in the series provides a Christian example of practicing discernment, prayer, or Scripture study. From a show backed by Christians, you would think it would contain at least one character that portrays a positive Christian perspective. Therefore, I felt that for a show meant to inspire conversation, the character choices offer no good example of how to approach the “messiah.”
Good example of herd mentality
One thing this show does is demonstrates people blindly following something without thinking for themselves. The focal character, referred to in the series as “Al-Masih,” shows up in Syria, seemingly out of nowhere, preaching that Damascus will be saved by God. A sandstorm comes and destroys the army that was about to destroy the city. Al-Masih leads the Syrians through the desert to the Israeli border and gets arrested.
The dialogue between Al-Masih and the Israeli interrogator is cryptic and informed enough to insinuate that he may be a prophet or the messiah. Then he seemingly disappears from prison and “miraculously” shows up before a tornado destroys the preacher’s town of Dilley, Texas, leaving Felix’s church standing. Felix interprets this as a miracle, especially considering Al-Masih also saved his daughter.
With social media dispersion of these events, people jump to conclusions and begin flocking around this man, believing he is the messiah. However, there are few references to the messiah as the Son of God in the biblical sense. He causes social disruption. He says a few words, touches people in an extraordinary way, appears to delve into their souls and speaks of things long-held secret and then disappears and reappears. People latch onto him, believing he is something special and therefore drop their lives and run to him. Messiah? Prophet?
There is a lot of the blind following the blind in this show. Something gets posted on social media and people leave their lives to follow and be part of the crowd, with little demonstration of critical thinking. No one goes to God in prayer for discernment. But then again, they don’t know how and the show neglects that as an option for evaluating this man.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
The world needs Jesus
Most of the show focuses on the broken people touched by the story, demonstrating how badly people need Jesus. The main characters include a teenage boy from Syria whose mom died and who never learned to read. A man who works black ops for Israel who committed a horrible act involving a child in Megiddo which haunts him, estranged from his wife, and barely maintaining a relationship with his young daughter. A CIA officer whose commitment to her job leaves her with no friends, a dead husband, multiple miscarriages, and a distant relationship with her father. And a preacher whose broken family relationship represents his estranged relationship with God.
As these people encounter the person called the messiah, things happen which cause them to contemplate their existence, without drawing them closer to God. They seem to want to discredit Al-Masih or to idolize him, without reflecting on their faith, lack of it, or a relationship with Jesus.
Reviews are calling the main character “Christ-like” and the Christian Post review even states “Many of his attributes mimics Christ…” but I beg to differ. This man known as Al-Masih is not very much like Jesus. The extent of his interaction with people includes cryptic speech and properly timed appearances.
Jesus spoke in parables and showed up in places where He was needed. Al-Masih’s appearances feel staged and orchestrated to achieve an unnamed goal. When Jesus spoke in parables, He told people what they needed to do to enter the Kingdom of God: repent, love their enemies, give to others. Al-Masih calls for peace and says that God loves everyone. However, the words coming from him seem like the absolute bare minimum and not the hardcore instructions Jesus gave.
Jesus talked with and ate with people; He interacted everywhere He went. While the Al-Masih character engages with people somewhat, he does more standing around with a serene look on his face, leaving people to come to their own conclusions about him. For example, after his Texas tornado appearance, he is held in a detention center for immigration for quite some time. While there, he speaks and interacts with no one, except showing one little boy one magic trick. Thus, if that character is supposed to be Jesus returned, he does not act like the Jesus I know from the Bible.
The series is rated for mature audiences and they are not kidding. The first episode shows graphic violence of war and frequent bad language appears throughout. F-bombs are frequently dropped; however, this kind of speech is pervasive in our culture. Thus, language represents the current culture. There are sex scenes in later episodes as well.
Not Impressed by Netflix’s “Messiah”
The ending of the series suggests another season with no answers about the person known as Al-Masih. I have problems with the show and do not believe it presented an accurate Christian focus. However, the show accomplishes its goal of raising the questions it intends to raise.
What the series shows me is that more people need to learn who Jesus really is. More people need to meet Him through us.
It also shows me that Christians need to get into their Bibles and learn discernment. The situations portrayed in the series disturb me due to the realness of it. I’m pretty sure that is how the world will react if something like it happened in real life.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15, ESV) Here’s a great article to prove my point.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
Pop culture will continually disappoint by stereotyping Christians. We have a chance, through living examples and sharing Jesus, to change hearts and minds for the better.