Messiah: How Our Vulnerability Leads Us to God

Netflix's recent release Messiah was a big hit. It gives a pleasure looking at the stories, the real moment and close reality in this world; the disruption in the middle east, concern to war, and religious crisis. Despite it gives a genius set-place and well-made in the cinematography, the best charm in the series was that it baits to such kind of looping wonders; is he, the Al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi), really?

In the early show, we can see that he easily gained followers; they trust him and follow from Syria to the border of Israel. However, only briefly, we can see the doubt and anger from one of the followers: he's false. Even so, he still collected the trusts; and one of the most shot was from Jibril (Sayyid El Alami). Al-Masih always succeeded with his attractiveness. If he doesn't get the "yes" he doubting the "no".

Felix Iguero (John Ortiz) was one significant person in the show. He was tired and hopeless and decided to burn down his church. But at the moment, he felt what he believed as a miracle. Later, he and other people in hope was starting to follow him. Both Jibril and Felix (and the other Americans) are illustrations of how our vulnerability is. Jibril was struggling with the chaotic situation and mother's death, he was hopeless. Felix does so, struggling to keep the church alive. Al-Masih's presence just like water in a dry oasis. They found hope.

Rudolf Otto's numinous can at least explain the people's psychology toward religion, and the phenomenon illustrated in the series. "Mysterium tremendum et fascinans" (fearful and fascinating mystery). As a mystery, the numinous is "wholly different", totally different from everything in everyday life we practice. It evokes a silent reaction. But the numinous also induces fear because it seems to be an absolute power. Eventually, the numinous present themselves as amazing, merciful, compassionate and gracious.

And "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes" from Karl Marx may tell it best. Fully, he wrote "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". People like Jibril and Felix (and other Americans) were those people explained by Marx. Al-Masih's presence was opium for healing. Simply, based on Otto's idea, they have the feeling of being a creature and dependence. 

Religion is self-consciousness, and it implies to them who lost. Some men in the show reject Al-Masih, but somehow, they doubt, they react to silence. Eva and Aviram who experienced interpersonal talking with Al-Masih were doubting their "no" and get desperate to what they really think. The president was also wondering and order to a personal meeting with Al-Masih. There was always "yes" from the mass to the existence of Al-Masih.

Later the trust was destroyed after the news. The fascinating was gone. Al-Masih identity was revealed. But in the end, we (or at least for Aviram) wonder that the illusion still remains after he woke up in the middle of the crashed plane. Aviram was not a person who lost, he just hasn't won his struggle, yet, still feel the oppression deep inside him.

The question is he really is not necessary but to whom we relly after all of this oppression and struggle. Marx once said that the abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.


Title: Messiah
Director: Michael Petroni
Genre: Thriller
Production: Think Pictures Inc., Industry Entertainment Partners, MGM Television
Season: 1st Season: 10 Episodes
Year: 2020 


January 10, 2020