Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
This holiday season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Hence the name Christmas, which literally means “the birth of Christ.”
In William Shakespeare’s beloved play “Romeo and Juliet,” Juliet asks Romeo rhetorically, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other would smell as sweet!”
This is not the case with the name Jesus Christ and the word Christmas.
Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Yeshua,” which in English is Joshua. The metaphorical meaning of the name Jesus is “God is salvation.” As the angel from the Lord tells Joseph in Matthew 1:21, Jesus “will save His people from their sins.”
Christ is the Greek name for the Hebrew Messiah. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Messiah will be born of a virgin (Gen. 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14). Also, the Messiah will be holy and sinless, because “the Spirit of God will rest on Him.” (Isaiah 11:1-5) The Messiah will die for our sins, but be resurrected by the power of God (Chapter 53 of Isaiah and Psalm 23). Finally, God will give the Messiah dominion over everything on earth (Daniel 2:44 and 7:14) and “the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. His dominion will be vast and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)
“The Nativity Story” movie, which opens tomorrow in many movie theaters around the globe, testifies in every way to Jesus the Messiah and is clearly and consciously evangelistic. Such statements that this baby is the “greatest King” of all and “God made flesh,” that the gold is for the King of the world, that the frankincense is for the greatest priest of all, and that the myrrh is to honor the sacrifice, and many, many more pointedly proclaim the story of the Christ and the great news that there is salvation in none other.
The movie also opens with Jeremiah 23:5-6:
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.’”
Thus, “The Nativity Story” is one of those very rare movies that brings the Gospel alive in a compelling, captivating, entertaining and inspiring manner that shatters expectations. It is a sacred movie and a divine revelation in the best sense of these words. It is a human story with all the right elements to capture the audience.
When Jesus asks Peter in Matthew 16, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16) This verse is an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ who came to die for our sins so that whosever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
When “The Nativity Story” affirms that Jesus is “God made into flesh,” it, too, is affirming Jesus Christ’s divine nature. For, our sins are so great that only a unique, divine Savior, as Jesus declared Himself to be, is sufficient to save us from those sins and deliver us from the pit of eternal torment in hell, which is the final judgment we all truly deserve.
As Jesus says in Matthew16:24-26, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life?”
Therefore, as we enjoy the food, gifts and many other blessings of this Christmas season, let us remember the divine sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us when He died for our sins. And, let us rejoice that, this year, we have “The Nativity Story” to remind us of the birth of our Divine Savior and Lord of the Kingdom of God.