Luke 2:1,2-4 – In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 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. (NIV)
It was a Sunday afternoon in the month of October in the year 2000, and we were in Turkey where a census was being taken. It was a strange feeling as our group travelled together by bus along the road by special permit. We were the only ones allowed to travel from one place to another. All others had to stay in their place of residence. I never did understand just how they did a count of the people.
As this took place, we thought back to a census that Caesar Augustus had called for. In particular we thought of the time when Joseph had to travel with Mary to the place of his birth to be counted. This was to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would come through the house of David and be born in Bethlehem of Judea.
Here our Saviour was born and God's plan was put into action — a plan that He intended from the beginning to open up the life of Jesus for us to see. For it was here that the Word became flesh and the flesh was Jesus who came to dwell among us.
As I look back upon the strange feeling of the vacant highways and the stilled roads where not even a single person was in view, I try to make a comparison with what the crowds in Bethlehem must have been like when was no room at the inn.
When we stop to think about this, there is really no comparison between the two events, for God works His miracles in His way, His wonders to perform. It is all a mystery to us, as was the Turkish head count to me.
Prayer: Dear Lord, as we come once more to approach the town of Bethlehem, let us stand and be counted as in days of old, as we watch the miracle of the birth of Jesus open up to us. In His name we pray. Amen.