Read Time: 3 Minutes 9 Seconds
In 2006, pastor, evangelist and author David Jeremiah wrote a book called "Why the Nativity?", a book designed to answer 25 questions people have about Christmas.
It's a book that answers questions like, why do Christians make a big deal about a baby born in a small town—Bethlehem? Why Bethlehem? Why Jesus? And, why does it make a difference to me?
In the book, Dr. Jeremiah explains for both believers and skeptics alike why it's important to examine the birth of that baby—Jesus.
Little did Dr. Jeremiah know that, 16 years later, he would produce a movie of the same name and that it would draw more than 13 million views on YouTube alone, much less other venues. While his book in 2006 touched millions of lives, the docudrama, which allows viewers to experience the sights and sounds of the first Christmas in Bethlehem, has impacted millions upon millions more.
Paul Joiner, who is the head of the creativity department at Jeremiah's Turning Point Ministries, helped spearhead the effort to make the book into a feature-length movie. Joiner wrote the script from the book, and it has obviously become a huge success.
"He (Joiner) had actually storyboarded the whole film before I even knew we were going to do this," Jeremiah told Charisma News' John Matarazzo in a recent interview. "Then, when I saw the vision they had, well ... It was kind of like a groundswell that happened in our hearts.
"We began to realize that this could be an amazing thing if we do this right. We didn't want it to be compared to other Christian films. We wanted to do a Hollywood film on the virgin birth of Christ, and do it at that level. That was just our vision. That's what we set out to do."
When watching "Why the Nativity?", viewers will have a front-row seat to the nativity story as they witness Old Testament prophets foretelling the birth of Jesus; Gabriel appearing to Mary; Joseph and Mary traveling the road to the crowded city of Bethlehem; angels appearing to shepherds; the bright star guiding the wise men from the East and baby Jesus lying in a manger in a humble stable.
Jeremiah also answers the question of why the Old Testament prophecies that predicted the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem are so important to the Christmas story. Jeremiah says that, while they were making the docudrama, "it really looked like and felt like you were in Bethlehem."
"I've been to Bethlehem four or five times, so it was pretty realistic," Jeremiah says.
With millions of viewers, Jeremiah is keenly aware of the film's impact. What he hopes the audience will understand is that Jesus' birth was truly a miracle, and it happened in a supernatural way.
"Jesus didn't just show up in any other way," Jeremiah says. "I like to tell people that God sent His Son to us and delivered Him through the birth canal of a woman. He didn't show up as an adult ready to redeem the world. He showed up as a helpless baby, and He showed up in that way to demonstrate to us that we're helpless without God, that we don't have any way to show up before God. This was a real story. These people were real people, real animals, real angst in the setting.
"One of my favorite moments is when Joseph discovers Mary is pregnant, and that he knows it's not his baby because they haven't been together. At the end, I think, for the first time when I saw this, I realized what it must have been like for Joseph. He loved this woman; he believes she was a pure woman. And now, she's pregnant. He doesn't understand it. He hasn't heard from the angel yet. I think the movie portrays the suffering he went through. They ridicule him because he's been so foolish to believe in this woman. That's the way it was. That's what was happening. The reality of that, in the way that we see how the story was, was perhaps the most important moment."
You can see the full feature-length film here on David Jeremiah's YouTube channel.
Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.
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