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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2006 Tom Flannery
705 words


By: Tom Flannery

While there have been a number of great Christmas movies made through the years, most of them have very little to do with Christmas.  Instead, they are merely set in part or in whole during the Christmas season. 

This year, though, we have a true Christmas movie with the release of "The Nativity Story," an instant classic.  The film works on every level, from its recreation of life in the Holy Land during the time of Christ to its inspirational performances to its high-quality production values. 

Best of all, the film is a reverent and almost flawlessly faithful adaptation of the biblical account of the birth of Christ.  It actually tells three stories -- the story of Mary and Joseph, the journey of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, and the scheming of wicked King Herod to identify and kill the coming Messiah as the time of His arrival nears. 

When the movie begins, Mary is being offered in an arranged marriage to Joseph, someone she does not love.  Since the Bible doesn't say how the betrothal came about, the filmmakers used dramatic license and relied upon the customs of that time to suppose how it might have happened. 

Certainly, arranged marriages were quite common back then, and may very well have been the vehicle that first brought Mary and Joseph together (though the film also depicts how Mary grows to truly love Joseph, as he does her). 

From this point forward, every major plotline in the Mary and Joseph story is based upon biblical revelation.  The film portrays them as the very young Jewish couple they were, living within a society entrenched in God's law, and it explores in very human terms the courage and sacrifice they exemplified -- and all they were willing to endure -- to obey God. 

Because Mary was pregnant before her marriage was consummated, the movie shows how she would have been shunned by many and the subject of continuing widespread gossip.  Similarly, Joseph's standing in the community was severely damaged by marrying a woman who was believed to have compromised her virtue. 

At the same time, "The Nativity Story" shows them in all of their uncertainty and doubt, such as when Mary questions why God would choose her to give birth to the Messiah. 

"I am nothing," she says, echoing her prayer in Luke 1 when she confessed her "lowly estate" before God and acknowledged her need as a sinner of a personal Savior as she "rejoiced in God my Savior."  Yet because of her suppliant acceptance of God's calling on her life as His "maidservant," she marvels that future generations would call her "blessed" [literally, "happy"]. 

As for the Three Wise Men, we don't know for sure how many wise men there were, but tradition has placed the number at three because they brought three gifts.  However, we do know that they weren't present for the birth of Christ.  By the time they arrived, Jesus was already a "young Child" (not the "babe" of Lk. 1) and living in a house (Matt. 2:8, 11). 

The film, somewhat understandably, follows tradition and places them at the manger scene in Bethlehem.  It's a humorous and ultimately very moving storyline which starts at their home in the East, where through their study of astronomy they discover that the King of all kings will be born in Israel.  So they set out on their journey to pay Him homage. 

The film's three storylines interconnect in the end at the manger scene, which the movie accurately portrays as being little more than a cave filled with animals.  As one wise man comments, the scene was an inexpressibly humble way for the glorious Son of God to enter the world. 

The wise men follow the Star to Bethlehem and worship the Child as "God in human flesh," laying before Him their gifts of gold (representing His Kingship), frankincense (a temple incense representing His role as our High Priest in heaven and as such the sole Mediator between God and men), and myrrh (an embalming ointment). 

As the third wise man lays the myrrh before Him, he explains: "For the sacrifice."  In so doing, he reveals the very purpose of and reason for the nativity.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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