We finally saw The Nativity Story last night. I know...we're terrible Christians for not going to see it in the theatre when it first came out! *;o)
Overall, I thought it was a pretty good movie. The writers definitely took some creative ideas to "fill-in" the details.
Being pregnant, I think I viewed the movie slightly different than I would have prior. I may have been a little more critical of the birth scenes because of it as well. I totally related to Mary's joy when she first felt the baby move. For me, every kick is a reminder of the life I have growing in my womb. Being that they didn't have ultrasounds, I could see that it was probably the first time she got to experience the fact that she was pregnant. In pondering this I realized that every movement I feel from my child is from a child of God as well. Granted, I'm not birthing Jesus, the Savior, but God has formed this baby and has a great plan for his life. I hope I remember this as I partner with my husband in raising this child.
Another scene I found interested was when Elizabeth was in labor. It was neat to see her using a birthing rope. We heard about them in our Bradley class and so I'm glad they put this tidbit of history in.
Throughout the story we get to see the different dynamics in Mary and Joseph's relationship and how it changes throughout their journey. At first, she doesn't know him and has no interest in being his wife. Once she reveals that she's pregnant and he decides against accusing her, she sees his mercy. As they continue their relationship in Nazareth you see both of their honor, which was extremely valuable to Joseph, being destroyed and the persecution they endure. You also get to sense their relief of going on an adventure for the census. It was a time they could escape all the mean looks and be with people who didn't know them. Through it all they both knew the truth. It was as if they had an inside joke during their time of travel. I think the entire experience brought them closer together and built a firm foundation for their marriage. She was able to experience Joseph for who he was - a man of great humility who put others before himself. He sacrificed food to strengthen the donkey Mary rode on and continued to walk without complaining even though his feet were bloody.
One part I didn't quite understand was when a random woman tells Joseph that it is amazing to look into your child's face as it's like looking at yourself. He seems to get upset at the idea that it's not his child. Are you kidding?! If you are looking into Jesus' face then it's like you are looking into the face of God! What a crazy idea!
A couple things that I found interesting about how they portrayed Jesus' birth were the lack of an umbilical cord and her not breastfeeding right away. It makes me wonder if Christ had an umbilical cord. I don't see how it would have changed the story. He is fully man and fully God. Being fully man, he would have to depend on the placenta in the womb and his mother's milk for sustenance as a baby as they didn't have formula then. Yet, being God, his Father could have sustained him in the womb.
I liked how they talked about their fears and anticipations of having Christ. Would Joseph be able to teach his son anything? When will they know that he is ready? How do you raise God? The way they are portrayed makes it so much easier to relate to them. I think that as we read the story we forget that Mary and Joseph were just human. They had fears and doubts just like all of us. We forget what a sacrifice it was for them to deal with a pregnancy outside of marriage and how society treated them. "You didn't have sex and God said this will be His child...Riiiight!" Sounds like a crazy story to me!
The wise men's studying of the planets and stars to find the time and place of Christ's birth reminded me of the link for Christmas Star (right panel of this blog). If you haven't checked out the site, I would recommend it. It goes into detail about how the "star" would have appeared twice, as noted in the Bible, and the exact dates it would have appeared.
On the subject of the wise men, it was always my understanding that they had not found Christ until a couple years after his birth. They were not there at the nativity scene with the shepherds. This somewhat urks me when I see them placed in the scene. Matthew 2 goes through the wisemen account and states that "as Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, there came Magi from the East to Jerusalem" and "they entered the house and saw the child with his mother Mary." They were in Jerusalem "as Jesus was born in Bethlehem" and they didn't enter the stables and see him in the manger, but entered a house.
A couple parts of the story became more real while watching the movie. I don't think the horror of King Herod's order to kill children struck me until seeing the soldiers barging into people's homes and slaughtering the kids. Wow! He was an extremely paranoid man, even to the point of assuming his son may rise up against him as members of his family already had (history books?). He is so scared to lose his rule that he goes to the extreme of killing babies, hoping to kill the prophecy.
Another part I didn't quite grasp until seeing it was the idea of the tax collectors. These men were brutal. They took children to pay off debt and had no mercy whatsoever. No wonder it was such a huge thing for Jesus to choose a tax collector as a disciple!
The picture they painted of Jerusalem is definitely something I could see Jesus coming back to and overturning tables in fury. They come to the holy city to worship and are surrounded by peddlers and thieves. No wonder Christ was so upset!
All-in-all, even though the birth wasn't extremely realistic, I think the movie did a good job at trying to fill in the gaps and make Mary and Joseph human. The movie watcher should know that the movie isn't 100% accurate to the true story of Christ's birth, but is meant to give them an idea of how it could have happened due to what we know of history and the Jewish culture.