Which Christmas Movies Would Jesus Watch?
Here are few great Christmas movies to suggest to your families
and church members this and every Advent season
Who doesn't love a good Christmas movie? I could watch It's a Wonderful Life every year -- and do. Most North Americans love Christmas movies and going to the movies at Christmas (a tradition many of us are still missing in 2021). Few of us would have said this in years past, but we now say, "Thank God for Netflix."
I love a good Christmas comedy and we could all use some relief this year for sure. (Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase is my go-to.) But with all the closures, cancellations, and social distancing, even church folks need a little more "reason for the season" -- and there are some great movies that can help.
What would Jesus Watch?
Here are my ideas, what are yours?
I believe Jesus has a sense of humor and Home Alone is funny slapstick, but it isn't about Christmas, it merely takes place at Christmas time. Yes, it has a fun "don't forget your child" moral to the story, but there's nothing particularly Christmas-y about that.
How about all those Hallmark Christmas movies?
Well, I'm sure Mary would love these (my wife and daughters do), But they're mostly about nostalgia and romance. One of the top-rated Hallmark Christmas movies is named "A Cookie Cutter Christmas" which has to be an inside joke because most of these movies seem to follow the same endearing trope. Fun fluff but pretty sure Jesus would prefer something deeper.
Yes, I think Christmas Vacation, my go-to fun Christmas movie, might make Jesus' Top Ten because it satirizes the modern obsession with secular Christmas celebrations, attitudes, and spending. (What would Jesus accidentally launch on fire across your sky?)
I think Jesus would watch any good version of A Christmas Carol, (Scrooge) by Charles Dickens, for indeed the coming of the Messiah shines a light on our past, present, and future, and reminds us that no one is beyond redemption, even Scrooge.
There are many different movie versions of A Christmas Carol available on a various online services. Search your streaming service or Amazon for "Dickens Christmas Carol" or "Scrooge." Generally speaking, the ones with George C. Scott or Patrick Stewart as Scrooge receive high marks. Even Disney's version starring Jim Carrey is pretty good. With kids, you can't go wrong with The Muppet Christmas Carol. See my life application questions below for post-viewing discussion questions.
I think Jesus would watch It's a Wonderful Life, the 1946 retelling of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge being personified by two characters, George Bailey (when he is shown what the town would have been like without him), and Mr. Potter. While not overtly Christian, It's a Wonderful Life does make God's case through Clarence the angel that how we live our lives and treat others has consequences, and that's a message Jesus often preached (Golden Rule, for example).
I think Jesus would especially get a kick out of watching The Nativity, the beautifully made, highly authentic-feeling film about his birth. He'd probably have a few things to add to it! ...but in general, it's true to the times and the original Gospel stories. Check your streaming service for this movie, or look on Amazon to rent/stream it.
VeggieTales has Christmas videos. “It’s a Meaningful Life” is VT's retelling of It's a Wonderful Life. They also have “The Toy That Saved Christmas” and “Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.”
Would Jesus watch Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas?
Not if my kids or grandkids were with him! A lot of kids are scared by the Grinch. That said, the message is quasi-religious. The Grinch is a Scrooge-like character, so it might be interesting to compare that movie or book to A Christmas Carol.
The Fourth Wisemen
Jesus is undoubtedly a fan of this movie and a fan of Martin Sheen too. Artaban (Sheen) misses the caravan that's left to follow the star. On his journey to catch up, he keeps getting "interrupted" by the needs of others. Years later, Artaban meets the grown Jesus who delivers a stirring message to the fourth wiseman. We are all Artaban. Look for it on your streaming services, or rent or buy it on Amazon. Great for age 8 and up.
With all these movies it would be good to discuss their themes as a family and add some life application.
- What themes in the movie are similar or the same theme as found in the Gospel stories of Christ's birth? (darkness, light, redemption, hope, etc.)
- Who is the "Christ figure" in the story?
- What thematic parallels were there between our movie and Bible's story?
- What part of you is like Scrooge, George Bailey, or the Grinch?
- Which traditions and activities at Christmas "get in the way" or help you?
- What part of the Christmas message do you need to hear the most right now?
Looking forward to your thoughts on Christmas movies Jesus would watch.
Be sure to see our video presentation of other Advent movies and music videos recommended to families this Christmas.
Neil MacQueen is a Presbyterian minister, father, grandfather, and lover of good movies.