Luke 2: 1-7
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
This is such an incredible story. There are so many facets of it that I am just amazed by.
First, the trip. I looked on Google maps to see if I drove by car from Nazareth to Bethlehem, how far it is and how long it would take me by car to get there. It said that it was 155 km (approximately 97 miles) which is about the same drive as from New York City to Philadelphia. (The New York trip is just 5 miles further). It would take me about 2 hours to drive it. But at that time, of course, there were no cars, so the trip took….okay take a guess…. remember they are ON FOOT…..
A) 6 hours
B) 24 hours
C) 33 hours
D) 48 hours
Did you guess? According to google maps (and yes, there is a function there to WALK from Nazareth to Bethlehem), it takes 33 hours to walk the trip. (And of course google maps puts up this warning on the map… Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths.) That made me chuckle out loud!! I would say there trip had more possible problems than that!
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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Knowing that they needed to participate in this census, they got ready to go. But can you imagine walking in Mary’s sandals? She is 9 months pregnant, due any day, and she is about to go on a trip that will take 33 hours by foot. I know when I started my last trimester with both my pregnancies, that the doctor told me to limit my travel and stay closer to home. Not possible here. Census takers didn’t come knocking on your door or the census survey wasn’t sent to your house…you had to go to the town of your birth. I would have a 3 day trip by car to get to my home town of birth. The same with my husband. I am so glad that I don’ t have to follow in her footsteps. Maybe she did get to ride on a donkey…but can you imagine all the potty breaks, how uncomfortable she must have been with a baby pressing up on her lungs and into her ribs. Maybe having Braxton-Hicks contractions, maybe having real contractions, but still, they pressed on.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
It doesn’t say how long they were there. Did he get his taxes paid on time? Was he in the process of knocking on doors, trying to find a place to stay? Didn’t Mary’s pregnancy cause ANYONE to give up their room? Evidently not, because the passage said there was no room for them in the inn. So Joseph and Mary stayed in a stable and Mary gave birth right there where all the animals lived. No sterile hospital, no birthing center, not even able to give birth in her own home…Mary delivered her baby in a stable. Girls, remember what it was like delivering your babies if you’ve had any? It’s not a very clean process either. But she wrapped up her newborn baby and laid him in a manger.
What is a manger? It’s a feeding trough for animals. Have you ever fed pigs or watched a farmer feed his pigs? Slop goes in there. So did our Savior.
One of my favorite songs of this season sums up this whole story… this is such a strange way to save the world. But when have any of God’s ways truly made any sense? If they did, they wouldn’t mean as much or be as memorable, would they? I mean, if a baby was born to an unwed mother in the hospital, who would really talk about that? It happens all the time now a days. But a baby born in stable? Placed in a manger? His mother did not conceive him with his father? That is something to remember. These all came true. It was prophized in the Old testament. It came true.
I want to leave you at the end of this story with the video that I spoke of earlier. The song on the video is so beautiful. It really covers the spectrum of all the questions that Joseph and Mary probably had during the entire time span…from when the angel appeared to Mary to the time when her baby boy came into the world. Why? Because it is all part of God’s plan. He loves us so much, it pains Him to be separated from us. It pains Him that we don’t follow Him. So He sent His Son to save the world. All you have to do is believe in Him. Believe that you are a sinner separated from God. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. God thought of you when He sent his Son, and the Son thought of you on the cross….won’t you trust and follow them now? God has the perfect gift for you… one size fits all…all you have to do is take it.
Enjoy the video. May all the blessings that God can send be heaped on you this Christmas season. I know I feel blessed already. Merry Christmas!