You might notice that this portrayal is quite different from most stories, videos and even crèches that we are used to. I'd like to highlight some of the key differences and possible symbolic meanings.
Observation #1 - The donkey
So often the story shows Mary on the donkey as if that was the intended mode of transportation for her. But as we see in this video, donkeys were used to transport items. At one point we see that Mary no longer walks but is now riding the donkey. So what happens to all the stuff the donkey had been carrying? It's now on Joseph's back.
Husbands and fathers are the bearers of the priesthood. They carry this burden to provide, protect, and bless their wives and children.
Observation #2 - Joseph
Can we just stop and acknowledge what an amazing job the actor did portraying Joseph? He's actually of the Jewish faith and fasted for three days to prepare for this role. I'd love to see him in more videos as Joseph. He was born to play this part.
Ancient Jewish marriages were arranged by family members. It was common for the husband and wife not to even really know each other. Once betrothed, they were legally bound to each other even though they had not consummated the marriage. They would not interact or see each other during the betrothal. When Mary becomes with child during this period, Joseph had the legal right to issue a bill of divorcement or even worse have her put to death. Instead he risks his own reputation to stay by her side and raise the Christ child as his own.
The love we see in Joseph can be like the love our earthly parents have for us. Ultimately we are Heavenly Father's but are given parents to care and love for us as their own. And we should do likewise with our own children.
Observation #3 - The "inn" and the "stable"
It is much more likely that Joseph and Mary would have gone to Joseph's relatives, not an inn full of strangers. The word "inn" actually translates to upper room or guest chamber, which in this video we see is quite full of people. This would not have been an appropriate place for Mary to give birth. So often the story tells of an innkeeper who turned Joseph and Mary away. But more realistically they retreated somewhere to get away from the people and the noise.
The stable we see in so many pictures and nativities is made of wood. This is not realistic as wood was a precious resource reserved for doors and roofs. It would have been more likely a cave carved out of stone which was plentiful. It would have been a very private and intimate place for the Christ child to enter the world.
It's easy to see our trials as events that are preventing us from obtaining blessings when in reality they are the very things that open the way for us to be blessed.
Observation #4 - The newborn
If you have given birth or witnessed a birth, you know that babies are not born all clean and shiny like we see in entertainment. He would have been bloody and covered in amniotic fluid. I love that this video shows the newborn needing a bath. He would have been bathed using water and possibly even rubbed with salt.
Jesus Christ is the Living Water. It is through Him that we too are washed clean.
Observation #5 - The swaddling
How many times have you seen the Christ child portrayed with just a modest covering with his arms and legs exposed reaching for his mother? Babies were actually swaddled when they were born to remind them of what it was like when they were in the womb.
We too are cared for by our Heavenly Parents and are swaddled in Their love reminding us of what it was like when we lived with Them.
Observation #6 - The manger
The Christ child being placed in the manger is the identifier that He is the Messiah to the shepherds. Unlike common interpretation, it would have been made of stone not straw and sticks.
Jesus is our Rock. He is the solid foundation upon who our faith should be built.
Observation #7 - The shepherds
For centuries the shepherds have been perceived as the social outcasts. But there actually is no evidence in the scriptures that this would have been the case. (For more information on this click here.) Shepherding was a family business. We see a family as the first visitors and witnesses of the Messiah.
The family is the foundational unit of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Observation #8 - The wise men
Finally, the wise men didn't visit a newborn. It took them quite a bit of time to follow the star and find Jesus.
Are we willing to seek for Jesus no matter how difficult the road or how long it takes?
While we may not know exactly what occurred when the Christ child was born, I think this is the closest we have come so far. It's the telling of a real story that happened to real people. Jesus was born. He died. He rose again so that we might all live again too.
For more insights into the new video, click here.
This is not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
All photos are screenshots from the video with the exception of the resurrected Christ which can be found in Church's media library online.