In December of 2006 a movie called The Nativity Story came out. It’s the perfect movie for setting your mind on the story of the birth of Christ. It struck me as bringing a good dose of reality to the story. As we sing “Silent Night,” we think of the peacefulness of the stable during the night following Jesus’ birth. Though the stable was no doubt serene that night, the film begins by reminding us of the cruelty of the Romans who ruled over the Jews in those days.

​This movie gives insight into the poverty in the village of Nazareth, where Mary and Joseph lived. It shows the potential for awkwardness when parents arranged marriages. In this version of the story, Mary did not reveal to Joseph her message from the angel about being pregnant until after she went to visit her relative, Elizabeth.
​It makes sense that she would not reveal it when she was not yet visibly pregnant. Elizabeth was miraculously carrying John the Baptist beyond normal child-bearing age. The portrayals in this movie made me realize what a relief it must have been to know that God had revealed her secret to Elizabeth. Finally –someone who would support her in her strange circumstances.

After Mary’s return to Nazareth a few months later with an inconcealable protrusion on her abdomen, the script gave a plausible unfolding of Joseph’s reaction. You see the humiliation Mary must have suffered, dreading what people would think. And worse yet, adultery was grounds for being stoned to death, according to Jewish law. The script provides an understanding of the betrothal process of that day. Though Mary and Joseph would be in a firm marriage commitment similar to marriage at their betrothal (engagement), they were not to have sexual relations until the day of their actual marriage. Breaking what we would call an engagement required a divorce.

For a full understanding of why Mary would not be stoned for adultery, I consulted the website. A man named Paul Blase gave what sounded like a knowledgeable explanation and one that seemed to fit with the script of the movie. He said the betrothal was a “small ceremony” in one of their homes. It could not be broken without a divorce. About 9 months or a year later, a large marriage ceremony and feast would take place. The marriage was not to be consummated until then. There were two reasons for the delay of the consummation. One was that it proved the bride was not already pregnant by someone else and was just looking for someone who would be thought to be the legitimate father. It also allowed the groom some time to provide a home for his wife and subsequent children. There were times when a bride did turn up pregnant before the marriage feast. If the groom didn’t protest, the marriage could go on with just some possible judgmentalism and ridicule.

The movie also brought reality to the difficult journey to Bethlehem while Mary was very pregnant.
In the script of this film, Mary was reluctant to accept Joseph at the time of the betrothal. But the script also turned her reluctance into a tender love story, due to Joseph’s caring, unselfish actions. Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac were very believable in their roles as Mary and Joseph. Keisha was convincing in her portrayal of a sweet, humble young woman—the kind of young woman God chose to bear His Son.

There is a pretty life-like portrayal of the actual birth of Jesus in the movie. The script seemed so Biblically accurate to me that I was a little surprised that they had the Wise Men visit Mary and Joseph in the stable, rather than a year or two later at a house in Bethlehem. And the Wise Men gave no credit to a dream from God for their decision not to return to Herod. That aside, I felt this was a wonderful portrayal of the circumstances involved in the story of the birth of Christ and of the main characters of the story, Mary and Joseph.

The movie lasts 1 hour and 41 minutes. It is rated “PG.” On the Common Sense Media website, the consensus of parents was that it should be for ages 12 and up. Kids said ages 10 and up. There is some violence, two childbirths scenes, and a circumcision, none of which are really graphic. Some families are making it a tradition to watch it every Christmas. Below is a trailer you can watch to give you a feel for the movie.

Videos suggested at the end of this video are not necessarily endorsed by this website

🤞 Don’t miss tips from Joanne!