As a mom, it’s important that the entertainment my children take in is both engaging and gospel-centered.
Many times movies are either too inappropriate and have a radical agenda, or the biblical messages in “Christian” productions are watered down or muddied.
Journey to Bethlehem is a live-action musical adventure that is thrilling for the whole family and presents the Gospel clearly!
It weaves classic Christmas melodies with humor, faith, and new pop songs in a retelling of the greatest story ever told—the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus.
Tweens and teens especially will love the beautifully arranged, modern music and identify with a young Mary and Joseph as they face difficulties and doubts but ultimately trust God’s plan for their lives.
Fiona Palomo plays the part of an endearing Mary, who is the perfect blend of strength and humility. This “grit and grace”, coupled with faithfulness, are what makes her truly the kind of character you’d want your girls to emulate.
When she gets the news that turns her world upside down, she struggles with feeling worthy and capable of the incredible responsibility she has been chosen for. One of my favorite songs in the film is Mother to a Savior and King, in which Mary wonders how she will raise the Messiah.
It is refreshing to see that though she is completely submitted to God, she’s also a human with very real emotions about the enormity of the task before her.
Joseph, played by Milo Manheim, wrestles with his own doubts as well. In one of the most creative and gripping scenes of the movie both “sides” of Joseph are depicted, revealing his internal conflict over whether or not to believe that Mary has betrayed their engagement.
It is a beautifully poignant moment when he decides to seek her out and becomes her husband, stepping into the role God has for him. The significance of this role is fully realized by Joseph shortly after they arrive in Bethlehem and Mary says to him, “I’m not the only one who was chosen for this.”
Antonio Banderas is brilliant as sinister King Herod, who devolves throughout the film as he obsesses over his power being taken away by this new, promised king.
He becomes like a true madman, losing sleep at the thought of not being able to keep his crown, and ultimately devising the wicked plan of destroying all the baby boys born in Bethlehem.
The contrast of his worldly kingdom with that of Christ’s coming kingdom is highlighted extensively throughout the film. Herod tells his son at one point, “A king needs only to be obeyed… and feared.”
Joel Smallbone of For King & Country plays the role of Herod’s son Antipater, who is the most dynamic character in the movie. For most of the story, he wrestles with the idea about what a king truly is.
He tries to figure out if he can ever be anything other than what his father tells him he is. His character transformation comes to completion when he finally comes face to face with the baby Jesus.
The film also chronicles the journey of the wise men, who provide much of the comic relief in this musical. Their light-hearted banter among one another, as well as the mishaps they encounter along the way, make for some pretty hilarious parts.
They never lose sight, however, of their purpose for traveling: to see and worship the Newborn King.
Central to the theme of the story is the Gospel. Each of the characters are confronted with a decision to make about Christ- accept Him and be forever changed, or reject Him and go to destruction.
It is abundantly clear that it is impossible to simply have a neutral reaction to Jesus.
The point of the Gospel is further driven home when the camera focuses on a lamb which runs from the shepherds’ fields into the stable right after Christ is born.
The outstanding music, humor, and breathtaking scenes of Journey to Bethlehem all combine to make this familiar biblical story come to life in an unforgettable, unique way.
This is definitely a film that you will watch with your family every Christmas, and a soundtrack that you will listen to on repeat throughout the year!
Get your tickets to see Journey to Bethlehem at a theater near you beginning November 10! Be sure to also download a discussion guide you can go through with your kids after seeing the movie.