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We all know the Nativity story--Mary, Jesus, the shepherds, wise men, and angels. The manger in the humble stable. How many of us, however, ponder the life of a man who seems to hover in the background--Joseph. From great Italian film maker Raffaele Mertes comes a story surrounding the life of Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph of Nazareth. Travel throughout the ancient land of Israel with a quite, humble man and gain a new perspective and awe in God’s story of Salvation. Staring Tobias Moretti as Joseph and Stefania Rivi as Mary the Nativity story will take new life as you watch it through the eyes of Joseph.
Joseph’s life is marked with many valuable character traits anyone learn from. The ones I see the most in his life, however, are obedience and self-sacrifice. He truly was the Lord’s servant, who sought God’s will in all areas of his life, and who walked where God asked him to walk. Can you imagine, for example, what he must have thought when he found out Mary was with child? Anger? Disappointment? Was he heartbroken, confused, and feeling betrayed? Did he worry about his reputation, or hate Mary for an instant or two? In his situation I would not have acted with as much kindness and mercy as he did, yet even before the angel appeared to him, his gentle heart showed through when he did not bring charges against her. Can you imagine what he felt when the angel appeared to him in his dream? Was he excited? Scared? Perhaps he was confused why God would ask him. Did he doubt his ability to protect and raise the child of God? Was he frustrated that he would have to give in to God’s plan? Whatever his thoughts, his actions only show us a heart of obedience and self-sacrifice. He followed God’s command to care for a child that was not his, a child he did not understand. As you watch him in Joseph of Nazareth you will be challenged by his example of submission, and marvel at his servant’s heart and love for his Lord.
Joseph’s life was also marked by a gentle heart of humility. Not only does this humility lead to great gentleness and kindness (traits we can see reflected in Joseph’s life), but it also leads to something much stronger--reliance on God. A humble heart recognizes that it is God who provides, saves, and protects--not our own strength. A heart that acknowledges its need for God can be used by God, and Joseph was. Something else can flow out of reliance and faith in God--courage. Joseph was a courageous man. Courageous for accepting the responsibility of protecting and raising God’s son. Courageous for uprooting his life not once but three times in order that God’s plan could be fulfilled. Courageous for accepting the rejection and insecurity taking Mary into his home would bring. Courageous for acting on God’s call when no one else understood. Yet, it is important to remember that this courage comes not from Joseph’s ability, but from God. Joseph was a man of faith, he believed that what God said would come true would come true, and because of this he could live courageously reliant on his Lord. He understood he was weak and in need of a Savior, and because of this humility God used him to send a savior.
As you watch and reflect on the life of Jesus’ earthly father through the film Joseph of Nazareth valuable lessons will be impressed on your heart and mind. You will be reminded of the importance of submission. That God can and use people if they will say “yes” to his plan. You will learn that you do not need to understand every detail before you begin a journey of faith. Joseph certainly did not know what God was doing when he took Mary into his home--I’m sure he never dreamed God’s plan would take him hundreds of miles to Egypt--but he was willing to take the first step, fully trusting that God would protect, provide, and make clear the next step of the journey in his own good time. You will be challenged to live a life of obedience and self-sacrifice, in large and small areas of your life. Joseph sacrificed a comfortable life in Nazareth with a wife and some normal kids in order to raise the Son of God. There were some giant, obvious things he gave up, but also simple things like teaching his son to pray over meals, or knowing you are his only Dad. You will be encouraged by Joseph’s heart of humility, kindness, gentleness, and mercy. Can you imagine what it would be like to have the neighbors assuming the worst about you behind every closed door? Or to have your son teach you about God’s love instead of the other way around? Finally, you will be reminded that God loves to use the most ordinary, obscure individuals to tell his great story of redemption. You do not need to be strong, or rich, or powerful to play a role, he uses everyone.
Joseph of Nazareth is the perfect film to watch as a family. Be encouraged together as you watch a familiar story through new eyes. Journey with Joseph through the years prior to his betrothal to Mary until the day of his death, and be encouraged and inspired by his life of faith.
Joseph of Nazareth has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, and may include violence and issues not suitable for younger viewers. As always, it is recommend that parents preview all content to determine what is suitable for their children, but this film is considered acceptable for most audiences.
If you enjoyed this film you may also like the following movies: The Nativity Story, Mary: Mother of Jesus, Mary of Nazareth, and The Fourth Wise Man.