Luke 2:4-7 – 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 guest room available for them. (NIV 2011)
These days when Christmas dawn rolls around, no little fingers will be tugging at my covers wanting to open gifts; instead, my special adult son will likely be knocking on my bedroom door asking when breakfast will be ready. We plan to remain here listening to Christmas carols on the Internet radio and sipping hot coffee or maybe eggnog. Later in the day, we'll have a nice meal. Afterward, my son will likely look over my shoulder when we check Skype or Facebook for greetings from far-flung family. Since these relatives said that they're having Christmas with the other side of the family, they've no plans to come here, at least none that we know of!
Likewise, when newly-betrothed Mary and Joseph began planning their lives as a couple, they likely hadn't anticipated that Caesar Augustus would issue a decree to take a census of the whole Roman world. If it hadn't been for that decree, the couple likely would have stayed in Nazareth, because Mary was in her last trimester of pregnancy. With the decree, a trip was required. This meant that she would be due along about the time that they'd arrive in Bethlehem.
Did they dare take such a trip, endangering both mother and unborn child? They had no choice. They had to go. So, they went, but even though the Emperor had ordered the trip, they must have sensed the finger of God behind that order. If their Son were to be the Messiah, as the angel had promised, He needed to be born in Bethlehem. They must have realized in that moment, that the Holy One of Israel was writing the ultimate chapter in salvation history.
Jesus was born to be the Christ, the Messiah, who would save the people of this sin-ravaged and violence-plagued world from the eternal consequences of their poor choices. He came so that each of us could be pulled from the mire of our own misdeeds to live a fulfilled life. Jesus took the consequences of our own messes upon Himself so that we could live in peace both now and in eternity — and for that gift, I'm utterly grateful.
If you've not yet taken the step to make Jesus Christ your own personal rescuer and friend, would you please pray this prayer with me now?
Prayer: Jesus, I know that I've messed up in so many ways, and I'm truly sorry. I'm asking You to forgive me and make me Your friend and follower forever, for I pray in Your name. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "What Child Is This" (Lyrics)