A new series titled, “Messiah” has recently appeared on Netflix. Ten 40 to 60 minute episodes of the first season portray a 2019 where Jesus Christ returns… or does he? Throughout the series, that’s the question characters and viewers wrestle with: whether the man proclaimed as “Al-Massih” is really the Redeemer returned or an imposter.
There are many instances to prove that he is the returned Messiah such as being able to withstand storms, knowing personal details about people he’s never met, the ability to walk on water, and heal people. Muslim and Christian characters alike interpret these miracles as divine, and thus identify the man as the Saviour. Al-Massih gains quite the following in both religions, his fame traversing into the rest of the world as he’s interviewed, and his sermons are broadcast across the globe. All the characters (besides Al-Massih) in the show are poor, lost and desperate, searching for purpose. Al-Massih enters into each of their lives creating stark division between believers and non-believers.
The characters who do believe proclaim his divinity to the rest of the world, leaving their old lives behind to follow him while the rest are determined to expose his identity, even threatening the man’s life as they investigate.
As a Christian viewer, the show’s storyline is similar to the Bible’s when Jesus first came to earth. Many believed and gave up everything to follow Him while others rejected Him, some like the Jewish religious leaders plotted to kill him. However, it made me wonder if what this show portrays as the second coming is similar to the one written in the Bible. Books like Revelations, Ezekiel, Matthew, Corinthians and more inform us that Christ will judge the living and the dead, that the kingdom will be established on earth, and finally that there will be a final battle. But the details are vague; exactly how will Christ accomplish these things? Will it be a sudden and abrupt descent from heaven where everything happens all at once? Or will it be what “Messiah” depicts where events progress slowly and similar to Christ’s first coming?
Perhaps Christ’s coming will unfold in an entirely different manner. It is uncertain and unclear. Especially with different Christian viewpoints of the end-times, Christ’s second coming is a confusing topic.
The four main Christian eschatological views are Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Premillennialism and Dispensationalism. Regarding Christ’s return, Amillennialism believes that Christ is already reigning on earth through His people. Postmillennialism believes that Christ will return when the world is markedly Christian. Premillennialism believes that Christ will rapture his people during a seven-year period called the ‘tribulation,’ and then establish his kingdom. Dispensationalism also believes in the Rapture, but Christ will reign on earth only when the Jews accept Him as their king. All these views have passages to support their claims so we’ll only know which one is correct when Christ returns.
However, the important thing to note is that even when Christ does return, there will still be those who reject and rebel against Him. “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess-” won’t happen right away. Satan will gather his disbelieving, heart-hardened army and attempt to destroy Jesus and the ones who believe in Him. Yet Satan and the unbelievers will be cast into a lake of fire.
Avoiding this doom seems simple enough; just believe that the man who proclaims Himself as the Redeemer returned is telling the truth. Unfortunately, the Bible also warns against false prophets and those who call themselves the Messiah but are really just deceptive, delusional mortal men/women. These deceivers will seem to be able to perform miracles and the show highlights this by revealing (spoiler alert) that Al-Massih was raised by a magician and his brother explains that a good magician convinces his audience that he is performing magic rather than a trick.
There are examples of people performing ‘miracles’ in the Bible too like with Pharaoh’s priests who were supposedly able to turn their staffs into serpents and turn water into blood, but the gods who gave them these abilities were false. We must not be led astray by such deceptions.
Therefore, another question this show raises is when Christ does return, how should we Christians respond? We cannot readily reject him because what if he is Christ; neither can we readily accept Him because what if he isn’t? On our own, we will never know, we will be suspicious, a fact that is made apparent by all the previously mentioned views of the end times. Which is why when Christ does return, He will make Himself known to us. The Holy Spirit too will guide us to the true Christ. We won’t have to figure out if Christ is who He says He is because we are not able to. God knows our intellect is limited and that we need help to believe and so He will provide that aid.
There are other questions this show raises such as does it portray Christianity and Islamic and their beliefs in a respectful, true way? Does the actor who plays Al-Massih fit the Christian descriptions of Jesus? Can this show be categorized as Christian or at least contain Christian perspectives and values? Keep these in mind if you decide to watch the series for yourself.