Government mandates. Travel headaches. Challenging weather. Christmas day?
Many in our country are facing new rounds of CoVid related mandates. Many are preparing to travel for the Christmas holiday and bracing for the headaches that come with it. We have seen weather systems wreak havoc on parts of our country and Christmas Day is only 8 days away.
Makes traveling at Christmas challenging and perhaps makes one opt for the coziness of home and a warm fire.
I’m sure Mary and Joseph would have wished for the same choice. The Christmas account makes little of the trip Joseph took his expecting bride on from the 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But a government mandate issued by the Caesar made it a mandatory thing.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. (Luke 2:1-2)
So Joseph followed the mandate and set out with his 9-month pregnant wife.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
I’m not sure what prompted the thought this morning was, “How long would it take Joseph and Mary to get from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Some feel five days minimum and up to 14 days. So perhaps today was departure day for Joseph and Mary…or at least they are “on the road.”
We often get a peaceful look at Mary riding on a donkey under the stars of the night. However, reading about the terrain and listening to a video, there is nothing easy about the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It is filled with rugged terrain, elevation changes, and the wilderness of the area from Jericho to Jerusalem (Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan). The need to travel with food and water. The trip was not smooth. Safety was not guaranteed. Weather was unpredictable.
Joseph could have given up. Mary could have begged to turn around. But they didn’t. They made the uncomfortable, arduous journey to Bethlehem.
Imagine the weariness of a 5-10 day journey and then it was time for the baby to be born. There was no room…and the baby was on the way. So Mary . And that’s where Jesus was born.
(Here’s an interesting video on the travel route Joseph and Mary might have taken: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtq1Fugkihk)
What does this all have to do with Christmas?
Marvel at the amazing work of love God orchestrated to bring our Savior into the world!
If I were Joseph, I’d be complaining about the government mandate…but God was using it to fulfill prophesy and stay true to his promises.
If I were Mary, I’d be complaining about the trip when it was long and uncomfortable and desire to be home where it was familiar and comfortable…but God was at work strengthening the faith of Mary to help me understand a servant of God trusts the work and timing of God.
If I were Caesar I would be counting the revenue the census would bring in, but God was counting the souls that would be saved as his promises were fulfilled.
Matthew 2:6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
If I were God, I would never have scripted it this way. But from the first step of the journey from Nazareth to the first breath of baby Jesus, God’s plan is perfectly being carried out.
Galatians 4:4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Christmas is only 8 days away, but the promises and plan of God is in the works!
Apply: How in your life have you looked back and noticed the amazing, loving detail God has worked in your life to bring blessing in your life? Whether through challenges or good times…he can and does guide and bless both!
Prayer: Lord, as I prepare to celebrate the birth of your Son, help me never forget that while Christmas is a special day, every day leading up to it and from it are days that you ordained and guided to show your love to me and the world! AMEN.